Real Talk Saves A Rocky Military Transition
Roman Roberts tells us his story of transitioning out of the military and how "real talk" helped him get back on track.
Links & Resources
- Real Talk With Roman Podcast
- Real Talk With Roman on Facebook
- Real Talk With Roman on Instagram
- Free LinkedIn Premium for veterans
- The Tailored Man Suits for Soldiers Program
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 Podcast.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 everyone today, my guest is Roman Roberts. Roman is a former Army interrogator who's here to talk about his Rocky transition after leaving the military and all the things that went on with that. Roman also hosts The Real Talk with Roman podcast and is a business consultant who leverages his military background to drive success for his clients. So welcome to the show Roman. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Roman Roberts: 00:01:10 Yeah, man, I'm super happy to be here. Thank you for having me on. As far as my background, I put it in my LinkedIn and I say it to everyone. I talk to them when I'm on podcast, it really starts in foster care. I grew up in abusive foster homes. Well, I like to say less than ideal because not every foster home that I was in was bad, but they weren't all great either. And so that set an environment for me where I was not really fitting in, constantly trying to be a chameleon, trying to find what my place was in the world, but really just being who people wanted me to be so I wouldn't get hurt, so I wouldn't get abandoned, whatever else. And that eventually pushed me towards the military. As quickly as I could get out of where I was and joined the military; scored really well on my ASFAB.
Roman Roberts: 00:01:53 And they basically said, Hey, what are you interested in being? And I said I, I don't know. I just want something that's going to get me connected. And you know, I'd only watched military movies. So I'm like the guys who are out there on the front lines fighting and the recruiter basically said, hey, well, I have this job it's called a human intelligence collector. And you have all the aptitudes for it. You scored high in it and we're offering a $10,000 bonus. So at 18 years old it sounded super great to me. And so I took off on it and really and truly it was a great decision; I call it divine intervention because it really was the perfect choice for me. I had had chameleon into different environments, so that had helped me when I became an interrogator.
Roman Roberts: 00:02:36 And it was just really great. The only downside to it was doing all of that, manipulating those people, being involved in those interrogations time, over time, working with special operations, deploying time, over time. It really took a toll on me. And when you mix that trauma with the trauma from being a foster kid, I just packed trauma on top of trauma for like a 20 year period. And so that's really rough when you do something like that. And then it proceeded to get worse in the subsequent years. And then I jumped into transitioning out and that's when it all really came to a head and I really had the opportunity to deal with it because my identity was always wrapped up in being a soldier. I was Roman the interrogator. Then I was Roman the really good interrogator.
Roman Roberts: 00:03:22 And so that just became who I was. And I never really said who Roman was because I never really had to. And then I got out and all of that collapsed in on itself. So it was like, well, who is Roman? So, then the path began and that's where transition got a little rocky for me. And I went through a lot of ups and downs from alcohol to pills, to stepping out of my marriage to almost committing suicide, very rough path inside of there. Eventually got it together by actually asking that question, going to therapy and saying, who is Roman and doing the work actually really, and truly interrogating myself, communicating with myself and saying, okay, this is who Roman is. And Roman's a person who likes to help people who is also a really good communicator and likes the analytics side of the world. So how can I mix all of those together? And that's where business and business consulting came into play. So that's the high, or I guess the mid-level view. I threw a little bit of detail into that.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:04:26 No, that's good. That's good. And I think your story is actually probably a somewhat common story with people in the military who get out of high school, they joined the military and their whole identity for a good portion of their life is as a soldier or as a Marine or whatever branch it is that they joined. But that's our identity. They are in the military and when you're in high school, you don't really have an identity. You don't know who you are, you might be the star quarterback or something like that. And that might be your identity, but that's something that lasts for a couple of years. And then you're not that anymore unless you're stellar and you go off to college and you play there, but that's probably few and far between. So I think your story there is probably pretty common where people start off and they're like, Hey, I'm a soldier and that's my identity. And then they stay in 20 years or whatever the time period is that they stay in. And actually, if they stay in for 20 years, they've been a soldier longer than they've been anything else in their life.
Roman Roberts: 00:05:40 I actually have a really big and so I'm not against that. I'm a Veteran, right? Like I get it. I'm not against these Veteran outreach communities or these Veteran programs or any of that. The statements, some of the same as I'm about to say is going to assign some controversial, but just because you're a Veteran doesn't mean that that's your only identity. That's a piece of who you are. And I think too often when we transition out, we say I'm a Veteran. And so then that just becomes who we are. Every introduction is I'm a Veteran. We lead off in it. It's our headline on LinkedIn. It's all these different things. And that's great. I'm not saying forget about your time in the military. I'm simply saying it's a chapter of your book.
Roman Roberts: 00:06:22 So we have to change the narrative to stop being so set on, I'm a Veteran, that's a piece of who you are, who are you really? And you're a compilation of multiple pieces. I'm a Veteran, I'm a foster child, I'm podcaster, business consultant, I'm a former interrogator, I'm working on my books. So one day I'm going to be an author. All of these are pieces of who I am. It's not everything, but all of those linked to a core thing. And that core thing is service. I am a person who likes to serve other people.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:06:58 Absolutely. Yeah. And to your point, it's a chapter in your book and in your story of your life, if you want to call it that and your book is still being written that book of life is still being written. There's new chapters being written every day. You're going to maybe have children, get married all these things are going to happen. And so now your identity is as a husband or a wife or as a father or mother whatever the case may be. You're new chapters keep getting written every single day in this book. And so you can't end the book with, I'm a Veteran and period end of story. Close the book. There's a whole lot more under the surface there. So let's go back to your transition out of the military. You mentioned that it was a rocky transition. You were in for how long, how many years?
Roman Roberts: 00:08:00 Eight years. I did six years active duty. And then I did two years as a contractor working with Mar Sock and Helmet. So essentially I said, you know what, I'm going to transition out of the military. I'm not going to be in the military anymore. I then immediately jumped on a plane and did the exact same thing I was doing in the military. And so when I came back after doing that for two years, nobody pictured me as a soldier. I was supposed to have transitioned out already. I was supposed to know how to be a civilian, but I had spent two years doing the exact same thing and really, and truly doing it in a hostile environment. So for sure, I was even less than really a transition Veteran because for two years I hadn't even been in America.
Roman Roberts: 00:08:42 So, it was really rough in the sense that I didn't pay attention during a cap. I truthfully, and I said this on another podcast the other day, and I don't mean it to bash the military, but a cap was a joke. I mean, I literally skipped two days of it to go drink. It was a joke and everyone was like build a LinkedIn profile. So you'd build one and it was complete garbage. And knowing what I know now, like I could have capitalized so big on the LinkedIn market and things like that. But the point being is none of it was really actionable. So I was in there, a guy who had done six years was drinking, I can do whatever I want mentality.
Roman Roberts: 00:09:26 And I was sitting right beside people who'd been doing it for 20 years or Staff Sergeants at like 10, 12 years who had their wife beside them helping them with this process or their husband with them helping them with this process. And here I am like this kid, and then I find out two days into my transition that my buddies hooked me up with a chance to go overseas as a contractor doing the exact same thing for even more money. So now I've completely tuned out. I have no clue what's happening in this whole event. And I think it's a disservice that happened too commonly in my timeframe of getting out. I got out in 2013 and that was really big. Then I think it's shifted a little bit now that's not as true, but I think it still happens.
Roman Roberts: 00:10:15 It's still as a common tale, it's just not as common. And so I think for me the biggest issue that I have with transition is that we haven't really taught Veterans how to take it seriously. Now on the back end, there are people like myself Rob Rands, Rich Cardona, there's all kinds of people who are now becoming vocal about what their transition was like and telling their story and stepping into their sectors. Me and business consulting and finance and people in media, social media, people in marketing people in all these different avenues who are starting to say, yeah, look, these are the mistakes I made. These are the things I did which wasn't a common thing. So I love that the transition has now become us outside saying, Hey kid, come over here.
Roman Roberts: 00:11:09 I have a van with candy. And we get there, we shine flashy things at them to get them to come over here and listen to what we have to say, because really and truly nobody was saying it to us when we got out. I think it gives me hope, but it also hurts. That's what the transition was like, it was awful for me. I went to go apply to jobs in banks and I had no clue how to tell my experience. I was a trained communicator, done thousands of interrogations all over the world and couldn't even translate my skills to a civilian employer. I had no clue how to do it. So I'm over here telling a bank manager, I've been to breaching and clearing courses. I know it's like to do CQB like this.
Roman Roberts: 00:11:55 Dude's, I have no clue. What are those, is that a finance term? What is that? And so when we don't teach those things, it really hurts. And the ACAP program wasn't teaching that at the time, then I don't know what it's like now. I've been separated from that piece of it for too long. I do know that people coming out still do have very generic cookie cutter resumes that are tailored towards government jobs that probably wouldn't pass the hiring systems for most companies or organizations. But at least there's someone on the back end to pick them up and say, Hey, this is bad. When I got out, nobody was there. And I don't know that I necessarily would have listened because two years straight in Afghanistan really took a toll on me.
Roman Roberts: 00:12:45 So I honestly spent a year just drinking and playing PlayStation in my house and traveling places and just being ridiculous. Which I guess people were like, Oh, well you were entitled to it. You spent two years out there, but it also wasn't good for me. It just perpetuated the cycle. And I went from drinking a lot to hardly drinking at that time. The bro vet was a really big thing. The drinking and like, ah, yeah be a Vet, rock the t-shirts and do this. And don't let somebody step on you and say, fuck them and stuff like that was the culture. And it was a disservice to the entire community, in my personal opinion. And that's not to say that it doesn't have a place, I'm not bashing every person who does that. I'm not bashing the clothing companies, but those were marketing strategies. And every Veteran getting out, didn't realize that that was a marketing strategy.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:48 As opposed to the way they're supposed to live. And all of these transition programs that are out there a lot of times, from what I've heard and what I've experienced, it's like drinking from a fire hose. It's like, you're not going to absorb all of this information and they can hand you all these packets of information with resources that are available for careers or education or whatever other benefits you might have available to you. But how much of that are you really absorbing and really understanding, especially when there's so many conditions on some of these things, like if you served for this long and then you get access to these different benefits. And if you served deployed or whatever the different benefits are available to you and under certain circumstances or whatever.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:14:49 And it's just so hard follow all of that stuff. And I know for me, when I was going through some of that debriefing type stuff, I was just like, I don't care. Let me out, I'll figure this out when I need to figure it out, but there's so much stuff I know I missed that was available to me. And I'm only finding out about some of this stuff now, and it's almost 10 years later that I'm actually like understanding, Oh, geez, there's these programs available. Or I could have been collecting some disability benefits for all these years and didn't even realize it, but because I just didn't pay all that close attention to it.
Roman Roberts: 00:15:33 And do you know what, that's a huge one that you just said the disability thing. So for me, I'm actually just now in the process of filing, right? So I started a year ago and they had tons of issues. They actually still are having issues finding my medical paperwork. COVID hasn't helped that at all. But the point being is, nobody said, Hey, you should really take getting your benefits serious to me. I thought I shouldn't take benefits because that's money that's allocated for people who have lost their legs, who have all these major injuries. But what I didn't realize is by filing it now, you get a rating of some sort that helps you as you're trying to do other things, job preference, housing, things like that. But it also gives you the ability to go to the VA whenever you need help.
Roman Roberts: 00:16:25 And especially as you get older. It gives a way for your family to have a means to take care of you because some of those injuries can add up over years. But if it's not taken care of upfront, the process is a lot harder than what it would be had I just done it within the first 90, 180 days after I got out. So I think really and truly one of the biggest things I wish that I had known and somebody had actually, and when I say somebody, not the person in the military or the person who comes up and speaks for five minutes and says, this is what it is and hand you a packet. I mean, I wish a real Veteran had come into the door, maybe with some tattoos on them someone that I could relate to and say, Oh, I understand this person.
Roman Roberts: 00:17:12 Right. And go, Hey, don't be an idiot. This is going to help you go get it. And this is how you do it. And oh, by the way, this is even easier. And now all the Veterans that I know myself included, if they're in, if they were in those types of conversations, they didn't given their number, their LinkedIn profile, their email, all that information right there. And I guarantee you, they can work faster than the VA system or whoever you're trying to go. They can help you jump through 90% of the hurdles that you think you have to go through on your own. So I wish that the system would have allowed more time for that. And still to this day, I wish it would, as opposed to, we're trying to catch all the people on the back end. Because it's like fishing with a hole in your net. You're going to get some, but there's still people who aren't going to get the help they need.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:03 Yeah, for sure. And I want to go back to one of the things that you said before, and I liked that you made this point that you were thinking that the disability benefits are there for the people who lost their legs or an arm or something like that. While that's true, that is certainly what it's there for. If let's say you have PTSD, and there you can get disability rating for PTSD. Sometimes when you are struggling with these mental health issues, it's hard to keep your focus, to hold down a job and things like that. And this disability rating that you could end up with bridges that gap for you so that you can focus on getting better, as opposed to having to worry about getting better.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:18:56 And how do I keep the lights on, how do I keep a roof over my head and not wind up being one of these homeless Veterans who's out on the streets because I can't hold the job. It's not a selfish thing to take these disability benefits. I think it actually would be more selfish if you refused it and needed it and wound up becoming one of the 22 a day or wound up on the street needing even more help to get yourself cleaned up and all this other stuff. So, I definitely think if anyone's out there who's on the fence, like, “Oh, gee, I don't know. I probably shouldn't do it because someone else needs it more than me.” Well, you might need it too.
Roman Roberts: 00:19:44 You don't even know, you think, Oh, it's normal. The ringing in my ears is normal, right? The back pain is normal. The knee pain is normal, right? Oh, those are all breaking. My nose is normal. That doesn't have a major significant impact in my life. Long-term my nose is set. It's still straight. It has an impact like you've created trauma in the body and trauma stays from somebody who's gone through it as a child and as an adult trauma stays in the body and you actually have to work at getting it out. Whether you go through a holistic medicine therapy, pharmaceutical meds, whatever it is. I'm not so much condoned. I'm not so much for pharmaceutical, but my point being whatever that method is, it costs money. It costs time. Not every job is going to be okay with you taking that time all the time. They may say that that's allowed, there's just certain instances where you can't and the military mindset is I'm going to push through and I'm going to make it happen, and I'm going to figure it out and I'm going to do all this stuff. And while that's great, and that will help you in your future career path, whatever it is, you got to realize that the reason these services are in place is because the need has been established. We know that Veterans have a need for this stuff.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:21:01 For sure. If you need this stuff, go out, get it and take advantage of it. Like you said, the need’s been established there. We know that Veterans need this assistance. And so use it and go with that. Going back to your transition, it was a rocky transition you jumped off the deep end there where you went from your time in the military, you were contracting, but essentially doing the same job. And then all of a sudden, one day you flip the switch and now you're just Joe civilian, not in a hostile environment, you're in the United States in a relatively safe place, presumably. How did you ultimately overcome all this stuff? So you spent a year on the couch playing PlayStation and drinking and all this other stuff. How did you end up getting over all of this?
Roman Roberts: 00:22:05 So for me, honestly, the, the year that I came back and didn't do anything that was really bad for me. Because it's set a bar for me. I stopped working out as much as I should. So that affected me negatively. I was drinking a lot more, drinking not very healthy for people who haven't dealt with their trauma. I'm not saying you can't drink. I still drink. I don't drink nearly the way that I used to, but truthfully, we should be telling people. And I was actually talking about this on a podcast with Rocco the other day. Like we should be telling people how to drink responsibly and not this call your buddy, do you have a number in the phone? Can you get the staff duty? Can you call your Veteran buddy?
Roman Roberts: 00:22:49 No. Are you in the right mental head space to drink five beers? And if the answer is no, then don't drink five beers. It's that simple. And that wasn't what I was doing. So essentially, I was waking up in the morning and pouring myself a bourbon and coffee when I was spending that year. So now I'm having to transition out of that as I'm going back into the workplace. So that wasn't just one day I stopped drinking bourbons in the morning. It took time. And then there was still phasing cycles. And I was working in an environment where drinking was a big thing. There was still a big drinking culture for my first job. And so all of that put together just kept pushing those traumas.
Roman Roberts: 00:23:34 And it led me to a place where I stepped out of my marriage. I almost committed suicide. And when I got to those kinds of lines, I went to the therapy. I went and talked to somebody and it was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it was really one of the things that had to be done. And the thing that I think people do is in Veterans, especially they go to therapy and they know the answers to get out of the therapist office. I know what to say to get a therapist to back off and sign my papers, everyone's done it. And I say, everyone, that's a broad generalization, but a lot of people have done that to continue doing what they love to do. And especially in the Veteran multiple deployments world.
Roman Roberts: 00:24:19 So for me, I had to really sit down and say, okay, therapist, I'm going to tell you everything. And we took it all the way back to me being in foster care. And they were like, dude, you should not. They were like, nobody flagged any of this. And I was like, yeah, I didn't tell anybody about any of this. And they're like, you're supposed to, this is really bad for you. You can't keep the same way as you can't walk on a broken leg. You can't go through life without addressing the traumas. We got to stop this whole Veteran shaming bullshit. There's no other way to say it. You didn't deploy a special operation. You're not a bad ass. You didn't do this. You're not a bad-ass. I know cooks who have been in some of the worst situations you could possibly imagine.
Roman Roberts: 00:25:07 And nobody would think, Oh, well, that cook is the person who would have been in that. But the point is that trauma is trauma. And it's not mined to rate. It's not anyone else's to rate; it's for you. And the people that you're working through it with to work through. So it's okay. Your trauma may be from being on a deployment and hearing about a friend dying; you may have been there, but that's okay. Like that's still a trauma and that's still something you have to work through. There's no scale for it. It's just, we're humans and we go through shit and we have to deal with it. And that's what essentially I did; I started talking to people, I started going to therapy. I started journaling, I got back to religion.
Roman Roberts: 00:25:52 One of the big things for me was I got away from the pharmaceutical pills. So I was taking all the pills that they give you. The sleeping pills, anxiety, pills, all of that. It was not helping me. I think if anything, it was really making it worse for me. And I think now a lot of Veterans are starting to notice that, and they're starting to build programs to help with that and things like that. I moved the extreme route we're more organic, natural foods, holistic in the sense of I don't really like down to cold medicine unless I really have to, I think the other day I took ibuprofen for the first time in five years. So, literally none of that I do natural treatments, teas essential oils, things like that.
Roman Roberts: 00:26:40 And that works for me. I've got more mobility in my leg. I do yoga meditation. And so I had knee injuries, got more mobility than I ever had running on par times to what I was running at my peak in the military. And I'm now multiple traumas years older. Still able to run at that rate. And it's one of those things that the pills, the things that they're doing are Band-Aids in my opinion, and the therapy. Really unpacking those issues is the key to it. The journaling was a big key for me. And it's still a big key journaling is a big part of my life. Literally I'm looking at my desk right now and I've got the six different journals that I'm actually going to start a journaling series on. And I'm going to talk about all the different journals that I've used over time that have helped me, and then do video walkthroughs and show the pages and things to show those to Veterans and just people in general to say, Hey, these are journals that worked for me. You should try them out in your life. And you know, no promotion by the organizations, just me saying.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:27:46 Right. Absolutely. I think that's a great thing to do, to share with other people, because some people I know myself, I started journaling recently and I almost felt lost when I first started. I was like what do I even write about what do I do? How do I do this? It's just like, writing down your thoughts and stuff.
Roman Roberts: 00:28:10 Because there's no wrong way to do it, but if you don't have, so for me, one of the first journals I started with was the mind journal. And that journal has a lot of prompts. So it's a half and half book. The front half has prompts the back half doesn't. And so essentially, your training wheels there. And so they walk you through it, and then you get the back half to do it. And then you can say, do I want to move to like a free journaling, free writing? Or do I want to go back to something with a little more structure? Because there are tons of structured journals that give you the prompts that give you the gratitude and things like that. And I think for me that that was huge.
Roman Roberts: 00:28:46 Because it allowed me to get my thoughts down. And I think for a lot of Veterans I can't tell everybody's story. And just because journaling worked for me, it may not work for you, but it definitely allowed me to clear my head. And I think the biggest thing was, I just didn't clear my head. We just have this go, go, go mentality. And we just never took the time to clear our heads. We did what we had to do, we did quick release almost. We did a split second decompress, and then we turned the pressure right back on. You've got to do some long-term decompression. For a lot of us, we've been through a lot of traumas of some sort. And so that's really what it was for me.
Roman Roberts: 00:29:29 It was just slowly but surely unpacking. And even now, I don't have near the moments that I used to. I snapped on my mother-in-law when the first Memorial day came around and looking back on it, why did I do that? That's so horrible, but I wasn't in a good place. It was over something stupid, like a song was playing and she was talking and I was like, shut up. I'm like, what in the world? But it was because I hadn't unpacked any of this. I think that's the thing, whether it's through journaling, I've noticed a lot of Veterans are starting podcasts and talking and there's a project refit that's letting people jump on for radio check-ins and they have conversations with other Veterans. So whether it's you talking to yourself or you talking to someone else, you have to have the conversation of some sort, and I'm big on communication. So I'm a little bit biased obviously. But there has to be some form of communication because that's the only way you're really going to get it out there. And unless it's out there, it's bottled inside of you.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:36 And I do want to get back to that point, but one thing that I you briefly touched on before, and I want to just make sure I reiterate something here for anyone who is listening, who is still in the military who is either deployed or stateside, wherever you happen to be, any medical issues that you have, medical, mental health issues, any of those issues that you have, make sure those things get documented in your medical record. It makes it so much easier. Going back to our conversation about the disability and things like that. When you really realize that you do need to file for disability claim, if that stuff's not in your medical record, it becomes exponentially harder to file for that disability claim, and so make sure you document all of the little things that might come up because you never know when one of those little things builds up and builds up and builds up; your knees start hurting, your back starts hurting, things like that; document all of that stuff to make sure that it all gets documented, even though it might be a pain in the ass to go to get it all documented, make sure it gets done. I can't stress that enough.
Roman Roberts: 00:31:54 No, exactly. I mean, the big part to that is don't worry about the stigma. Get it done. I'm not saying to milk it and nurse it and do what isn't there, but if it's there, go get it because otherwise, you're trying to fight almost a losing battle. And not to say that the system is out to say you don't have it, but the system is there to make sure that the money is allocated properly.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:32:24 And one of the things that they have to do is verify that the injury was service-connected. And if there's nothing about it in your service record, it's going to be harder to link that to your military service. So just do it, take care of it and make sure it gets in there. And then you don't have to worry about it quite so much later on. So that was a little sidetrack, but I wanted to get back to talking about having these conversations, the importance of having these open and honest conversations with other people, and I imagine this type of thing would start with being honest with yourself. Looking in on yourself, like you were saying, when you went to therapy, you could have very easily just said all the things that checked all the boxes on the therapist checklist and got you out of there.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:33:22 I know when I got back from deployment, they had the I don't even know what they call it, but we have to meet with the mental health professional. And I answered all the questions just to get out of there as quickly as possible pretty much. And that was probably the wrong thing to do looking back on it. I had experienced quite a bit of stuff that probably needed to be dealt with, but I just wanted to get out of there. And again, there was that stigma. I definitely was not being honest with myself or with the people that I was speaking with. What about these conversations? What is the importance of these types of conversations that we're talking about here?
Roman Roberts: 00:34:11 The importance is that you can't really heal unless you have them, right? First and foremost, my marriage was falling apart, now I have a three-year-old son. If I had not addressed this stuff before having my son, life for him could be very different. And that actually hurts me to say out loud, this is actually the first time I've said that statement out loud right now that I reflect on it. I'm like, dang, that's actually pretty harsh, but that's the truth of it. And that's the hardest part. Having the conversation with yourself is the hardest part and getting yourself to be open and honest with all of the people, especially when you know how to say the answers to get out of it.
Roman Roberts: 00:34:55 So it's really the first step, because you hear me now, right? You hear me having this conversation and if you go back and you look on my LinkedIn, or you go check out real talk with Roman, or wherever I'm at on any social, you're going to see me telling this story and being open and authentic about it. And you're going to hear a very similar track on any of these, but the reason that that's the case is because I had the conversation with myself. I had the conversation with my therapist. I went from being a person who had to pour a drink to remember my buddies, to being able to sit outside and tell people who've never met them and are never going to get to meet them. I didn't need alcohol to do it because I was in a good enough place to where I could just have the conversation.
Roman Roberts: 00:35:43 And that's really what it's about. Do you want to be that person always depending on some crutch? Whether it's CBD, alcohol, just getting out and shooting guns. I'm not saying any of that stuff isn't bad in moderation. You can do anything in moderation, but the point being is we use them as crutches too often. And until you get comfortable with yourself and you get comfortable with the things that have happened to you and the things you've been exposed to, then you're going to use everything around you as a crutch. And you're going to take it out on people and people are going to start knowing. When I first came home, my wife would always introduce me with the preface of, I just came back from a deployment.
Roman Roberts: 00:36:27 And basically saying, he's probably going to say something out of line and don't hold them accountable or he's going to just be mean and walk away, or he's going to just sit in the corner and drink. It sounds so horrible. And it sounds like the stereotype you see on TV, but truthfully, that's what I was doing. And until I had that conversation with myself, I wasn't able to see how, and this is going to sound harsh, but how disgusting it was to be that person who could go to a restaurant like a Benihana's. And I'm there with my wife and a bunch of other people, and I've been drinking all day. And then I make an ass of myself at the table.
Roman Roberts: 00:37:12 I just kept drinking the whole time I was there. I mean it, there's no reason for it. It doesn't make any sense. It perpetuates the bad stereotypes that Veterans have. It's not an accurate representation of who we are. It's just an accurate representation of us not dealing with the traumas that have come our way. And that's my biggest thing. You can't actually show up your best for your work for your family, for yourself until you actually have these conversations and they're going to be hard and they're going to suck. The first time I talked about all this stuff, it was hard. The very first podcast I was on, I was fumbling my way through it. Now I'm just like, whatever, bring it on. I'm like, yeah, yeah.
Roman Roberts: 00:37:58 I got drunk at a restaurant as a man and asking myself, it happened. I can't change that, but I can definitely say, Hey, don't be like me. And hopefully one Veteran hears it, or one person about to transition out and goes, you know what, I shouldn't or they rethink that whole idea of, I don't rate going to the VA. No, it's called Veterans, right. It's for Veterans, right? You're all Veterans, you all rate it. So, don't be ashamed to go do what you need to do, because you already gave everything. You had to be a part of this to help the country at a time of need. Whether you joined at a time of war or not, you joined and quite possibly could have died. It's in the back of everyone's mind who's ever been in the military, right.
Roman Roberts: 00:38:49 The point being is now you're out of it. And you have to reintegrate into society. You have to, and for millennia, for as long as soldiers have been fighting in wars, wars have ended and they've had to reintegrate into society. And it's always been a challenge. And we haven't gotten it right throughout history. We're still working to get it right. And that's okay. But if you don't figure it out for yourself and you don't start having these conversations, then you're not going to be able to show up, to help the next Veteran through and to make this incrementally better. And I think the one thing every Veteran has in common is we want to serve our community. We want to help our community. We want to help our brothers and sisters in arms. So, that put your own mask on before putting on someone else's. Deal with your stuff. And then we can start making the overall Veteran affairs system better. We can start making the overall Veteran community better, right? You can start becoming a part of outreach programs like Veteran or project refit or healing heroes or any of these places, and actually do it. You can start the next podcast that Veterans listen to. But until you deal with it, you're not going to be able to do it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:40:00 It's going to be so much harder for you to do anything and function in society, if you're not dealing with the issues that you have going on. If you have PTSD or you have other issues going on, you're not going to be able to be on top of your game, as much as you might think that you can just muscle through it and just drive right through and get everything done on your own. You're not going to be as effective.
Roman Roberts: 00:40:35 And then that's the other bad part, because we're set up to win. Military Veterans are set up to win nine out of 10 of us. We are set up to figure out how to adapt to the scenario and overcome it. So you can be physically or mentally out of sorts and still show up and outperform everybody inside of your job. I know it because I did it. I was literally a mess, but every person who worked with me was like, Roman knows everything about this. Roman is a guy promoted above peers. And it's a common military tale, but eventually you get to a place where all of that is not going to sustain you because it gets overwhelming. It builds so much until it has to explode. And if you're not taking the time now to start releasing it, and that's why a journal now.
Roman Roberts: 00:41:30 That's why I continue with it because it's a continuous valve for me. I don't always write 20 pages inside of a journal. Sometimes it may be three sentences, but that three sentences is a release. And it's getting some of that off of me and getting some of that out of me, it's making it where, when I deal with the next thing and every podcast that I do, this is another form of journaling for me. This is therapeutic in its own way. And it's just finding what that is for you and really pushing through and driving on and clearing the air about what's going on inside of yourself.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:42:05 Now looking at your current career, the things that you're doing now how are you using the skills and whatever you've gained through your military career? How are you using all that stuff now in your current career?
Roman Roberts: 00:42:22 So it's tied into everything I do. I do business consulting where I help organizations increase their profitability and productivity through their written procedures, the business processes that they have. So the way that they operate, how they operate and not all of it is the cookie cutter, Oh, be a better leader, right? Not just that military end of it because there's a lot of military consultants who are doing that. Saying how to build teams you have the team of teams and you know, even in Jocko, Willink and Echelon front, things like that, and those are not bad programs, but that's not the main core of what I'm doing. I have a lot of business certifications, Six Sigma, PMP, Agile Auditing all these different things.
Roman Roberts: 00:43:10 And so what I try to do is incorporate both pieces of it. So I was an interrogator in the military, communicated to some of the hardest situations possible. And when you look at business, all businesses are communication and 90% of their issues are due to a communication breakdown, whether it's inside of their policies and procedures, the way that their teammates communicate with each other, the way that leadership communicates down, the way that the mission statement is communicated to the public. All of those things. And so what I do is I basically integrate and look at what they're doing and say, Hey, your written procedures could better align with what your mission is by doing this. And then keeping it in accordance with ISO 9,001 or as 9,100 or Sam C or ANSI or whatever standard that they have in place, and that they want to be relevant to.
Roman Roberts: 00:44:02 So I mix that military knowledge of SLPs and things like that into how current civilian regulatory regulations are and how through me going through multiple forms of interrogation, both written and verbal, how those statements can be better put together. So I rewrite policies. I help organizations build out their strategies having through the lens of both tactical and business. I've worked with nonprofits, I've worked with fortune 500 companies. I've worked inside of global organizations. I've done it all. And so I'm able to take all of those different pieces and turn it into a comprehensive package, a comprehensive way to say, this is what the problem is, and this is how we solve it and it's not just be better leaders. While that can be a piece of it. And that's an important part.
Roman Roberts: 00:45:00 That's definitely not the entire scope of it. And I'm not going to say, okay, let's all get the paintball guns out and let's go run like some tactical drills. That has its place. And sure you can pay somebody to do that. That's not what I do. I sat down and I use the interrogation skills that I've gone through and that I've picked up over the years to find out the problems in your business. Then I use the business skills, like the Lean Six Sigma black belts and all of those different things, those certifications that I've acquired over the years to then link those problems to a military and civilian based solution that incorporates the best of both worlds. And then I teach those strategies to the actual organization so that they can do it. I try to focus with small and mid-sized businesses because they don't have the same budgets to allocate to turn every one of their employees into a black belt or things like that. And truthfully, if I gave every single one of them, the black belt curriculum, they still wouldn't execute inside of their organization the way they need to, because the way that fortune five hundreds and large companies implement all these strategies is completely different than the way that a nonprofit focused on foster care is going to look at them. And so instead of overwhelming them with the tools that they don't need, I basically customize it to what they do.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:46:25 That's awesome. I think it's great that you've found something. You alluded to this earlier in the episode, but you found something that you're able to marry all the skills that you have and in all the background that you've gone through your military career throughout your whole life really, and you've turned it into something that you can actually do to help other people. That's your gig is you like to help people. So and it seems that's exactly what you're doing, helping out these businesses and helping out people along the way. So is there anything else that you wanted to talk about in terms of advice for Veterans or people who might still be in the military, maybe in the last six months of their career transitioning out soon; any other types of advice that you might have for those types of people.
Roman Roberts: Get LinkedIn
Roman Roberts: 00:47:30 and actually use LinkedIn. I'm talking, get on there and start adding people. And right off the top of my head, Rich Cardona, Rob Wrens, myself, you can add me, until I hit the capital, keep adding people. But, James Corbin, like all these different people, I literally have tons of names running in my head. They're all rambling together, but essentially find those Veterans who have been out for a while and who have been figuring it out and start seeing, because the one thing you'll also notice is a lot of the Veterans on LinkedIn are posting about how to do LinkedIn. And LinkedIn is a very strong tool, and it's not a strong tool in the way that the military set it up.
Roman Roberts: 00:48:22 Write your resume, put it out there and just copy and paste it. Your resume and LinkedIn are two totally separate things. So LinkedIn is how everyone translates the resume into you as an individual. They're seeing you every day showing up on the platform. I encourage everyone to show up every day on the platform, even if it's just a post one thing or two to reply to a couple of people. That's still content. Actually get on LinkedIn and utilize it. You actually get LinkedIn premium for free as a Veteran, when you get out, there's a program that you can go through where you basically get a free year subscription to LinkedIn, which means that you will have premium access. So you can literally message anybody on the platform. Like nobody's off limits. You don't have to be connected with them or anything.
Roman Roberts: 00:49:09 So you can start reaching out to people to learn all the tips and all the tricks and all the things you need. People are actually really friendly on LinkedIn. That sounds so cheesy, but they really are. It's one of the few social platforms where people do connect and build the relationships offline. It's not Instagram where people are just trying to build a profile and get to an influencer status. There are people who do that. But predominantly that's not the way that the platform is set up and that's not the way that it works. And so actually use LinkedIn, if you were six months, if you're six years from getting out of the military, just literally today, if you're listening to this and you don't have LinkedIn, or all you've done is you've put your name and you got like 25 connections, get on there and start really using the platform, playing with it.
Roman Roberts: 00:49:58 I know everyone listening on here, scrolls through some form of social media for at least an hour a day, right? Like nine out of 10 people. So she switch that hour of Facebook over to an hour of LinkedIn because you're going to start seeing the Veteran resources, they're all going to start popping up. And because LinkedIn will automatically figure based on your job experience where you should be connected to. So they're going to start recommending other Veterans to you. They're going to start recommending communities to you. The Veterans of Afghan Wars, the Veterans of Iraq Wars, the aviation flight group, whatever it is, all those groups exist. There's an interrogation group inside of LinkedIn. So find that group that fits who you are, and literally go in there and say, Hey, I'm transitioning.
Roman Roberts: 00:50:46 And whether you say you're transitioning in six years or six days, people will start giving you resources. And it's one of those give, give, give platforms. And I love that. And I think that a lot of Veterans don't think that they can post all of their military background on there. So they get nervous in that sense. I'm not saying put classified, but definitely you can still post on the platform and people will know who you are and understand what you're doing or other people will go, wow. That's not what you put on here. Let's rephrase that right here. What you're trying to say. And just play with the platform, learn it, and get connected with those people. I'm connected with Veterans in all 50 States and we weren't in at the same time, we didn't serve in the same things.
Roman Roberts: 00:51:31 And obviously my podcast helps. I get to connect with Veterans in that way, but they all are doing crazy things on LinkedIn. One of the guys that I just had on my show, he actually just did a program that I didn't even know existed. And it basically provides suits to Veterans when they transition, male and female, it gives them a suit so that they have one for their first interviews. So he's in North Carolina and he did an event, gave out tons of suits, basically him and that organization, he basically opened up his office and all day it gave out suits like that. That's the stuff that's out there. Those are the things and you're not getting it from somebody who's in an ACAP classroom checking their block to run through it, to get their paycheck. You're talking to Veterans who are giving you the time on the platform because they actually have a passion for doing it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:52:20 You are the second person in as many episodes to mention that as your advice to people who are transitioning out to get on to LinkedIn. So two for two, I think that it's probably worth checking out for anyone who's out there who doesn't have their LinkedIn profile filled out who doesn't have all their background on there. Obviously, like you said, don't put classified information on there, but definitely fill it out, use it to the maximum potential take advantage of that free LinkedIn premium, if you're eligible for that definitely take advantage of that. Definitely great advice. I think making those connections and especially in this day and age with COVID, it's hard to network in person. So if you can do the online networking and use LinkedIn to get in touch with people and make those connections that you can make connections in the industry you want to get into or whatever, just through even secondary and third connections.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:53:34 You might have somebody there who can introduce you to somebody who's in that industry and can help you get the foot in.
Roman Roberts: 00:53:43 And they actually have really good jobs. So they have a job section where the PR companies post and they actually have a really good job section. A lot of big companies are on there. A lot of small companies that are on there and it's actually just really well set up it navigates really easily in the app. So if you're looking for a job, when you get out of the military, it's another thing as opposed to just going to USA jobs or Indeed, or monster, like not saying those are bad, but it's definitely an all-in-one shop and those are nice.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:54:18 Absolutely. Well, Roman, it has been a pleasure speaking with you today. Where can people go to get in touch with you and find out more about your podcast and everything else that you do?
Roman Roberts: 00:54:28 So LinkedIn is obviously one, Roman Robert's just look me up and then any social platforms Real Talk with Roman, whether you search the hashtag or you do just a search Real Talk with Roman, you will find me except for Twitter, Real Talk with Roman but still same thing, right? If you type in real time or Roman also show up, because the hashtag and then podcast Real Talk with Roman. And then my consulting business is BlueSphinxConsulting.com. You can definitely go check that out. There's also a link to my podcast there as well. Whether you want to shoot me a message for your organization, or you want to shoot me a message just to connect. I am always up to talk to anybody about anything. I think you never know what a conversation can lead to, so you just gotta have it and find out.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:55:15 Again, thank you for joining us and sharing your story, sharing everything about your background, your history, really great information. So thank you again. I appreciate it.
Roman Roberts: My pleasure, man.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:55:32 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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