Rich LaMonica is a 22-year Army veteran. After retiring in 2015, he went through a year of self-reflection as he transitioned back to civilian life. Through this process, he learned many valuable lessons, which have fueled his drive to help other veterans as they work their way through the transition process.
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Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast we'll 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. Everybody welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is Rich Lamonica Rich is a 22-year army veteran who deployed on multiple occasions in support of the global war on terrorism. After retiring in 2015, he went through a year of self-reflection as he transitioned back to civilian life through his transition process. He learned many valuable lessons which has fueled his drive to help other veterans as they work their way through the transition process. Welcome to the show. Rich,
Rich Lamonica 00:00:54 Thanks, Scott. Thanks for inviting me on and continuing our conversation. This is great.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:00 Yeah, absolutely. And for those of you who haven't heard, Rich and I did an episode on his podcast, the Misfit Nation podcast. And so go check that out, but that's kind of where we started the conversation and I'm sure some of the stuff that we talked about might cross over into this episode too. But it's always good to go check out other podcasters and other veterans who are doing great things for the veteran community. And Rich is one of those people. So definitely go check that out, subscribe to his podcast, and everything too. But Rich, before we get too into that, why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background and a little bit about who you are.
Rich Lamonica 00:01:42 All right. So I'm originally from New Jersey. I joined our active army in 93. After about 18 months in the reserves. I joined the reserves. Finally, because my dad had told me enough of us that served, you don't need to serve in the military. And I finally took that step to look into college. Now I can do this on my own. If I'm an adult, I can do this. I joined the reserves and I just didn't like it. I said, there is no real structure in reserves. So I finally one day said, all right, I'm going to transition to being active. And my commander signed off on it. And I wound up at Fort Stewart, Georgia in 1993. I was in processing, that's when the Mogadishu happened in Somalia. So right away, I'm thrown into this whirlwind of stuff going on with a defense readiness force.
Rich Lamonica 00:02:23 TRF gave us all these shots. I have no idea what's going on. Hey, you gotta go here. Hey, you gotta go there.. Our major, yes. Sorry. Yes. Sorry. Just do this. Just two bags full on all, but it's, I'm going to get, I'm going to be alright. I'm good. Because these guys know what they're doing and to come to find out, they thought I was an 11 Bravo. They were putting me along with all 11 Bravos, but I was a chemical guy in 95. So you're not going to come back. You're gonna have to stay here and train a little bit before you go because these guys are already ready. Obviously so fast forward, multiple times, went from Fort Stewart to Korea, to Fort Campbell, to Fort Riley, to Alabama to Korea, back to Campbell for three more years.
Rich Lamonica 00:03:02 And then I retired out ofFort Campbell, but really out of Aberdeen proving grounds in 2015, at which time I did about, like I told you, a year of self-reflection 365 days. Exactly. From the time I retired to the time I got a job, that's how long it took me to find someone. I would say, Hey give this guy a chance. He's not looking for all this money that people say soldiers want, he just wants purpose. And I was to go out and find a new job. So I worked for a veteran non-profit for two years, the mission continues, basically mentoring other veterans as they went through that same transition nightmare. The first six months it's called the fellowship program, which lets them get in their communities and volunteer at a nonprofits of their choice to try to soak back into the community.
Rich Lamonica 00:03:43 Give that purpose back then. From there, I got my First Sergeant. FThe old first Sergeant Columbia said you want to work on Fort Campbell and train soldiers? I said, yes. When do I start? And I've been doing that since 2018. Now I've been training soldiers on emerging threats on Fort Campbell. Last year, about this time I had his brain line and brought ideas to start a podcast Misfit Nation. Since I had about eight hours left in my week unaccounted for time. So I said, let me start a podcast so I can start getting veteran voices out there. So it's the more they get to tell their story. The more they feel good about themselves, the more they find that purpose in life. And that's why I started it. And now it's kind of morphed into that. Plus also having people come on that can help them in their journey like yourself to Drive on Podcasts also helps Veterans. So I had you last week telling me what resource Drive On Podcast is for other veterans that have started businesses. I have them come on so they can pitch their business, especially online that guys and gals, that way they can get more business and build themselves and become better in their life. And I think that's about it in a nutshell.
Scott DeLuzio 00:04:49 Yeah. I mean it, it's definitely one of those things that you, you touched on earlier where, when you start a podcast, you don't really realize, I don't think the amount of time that it actually takes to get that set up and, and start producing the episodes and putting them out there and finding guests and editing the episodes, all the stuff that goes into it, marketing it and that social media and everything that goes into it. It's just so much stuff. But it's one of those things for me anyways. It's a labor of love. I just love doing it. I love giving back to the veterans who are out there, talking to people like yourself and all the other great guests that I've had on the show, and just getting to know their stories and hearing about their backgrounds and what it is that they do.
Scott DeLuzio 00:05:41 It just really is something that just brings me joy. That's something that I just truly enjoy doing. I'm glad that you started this and you're also giving voices to those veterans who are out there like you said starting their businesses. Just trying to make a name for themselves, trying to make their way, after getting out into the civilian world and doing something with their lives, it's just good to have people like you. And in this podcast out here to help those people who are trying to just get some attention on, on what it is that they're doing,
Speaker 1 00:06:20 Definitely, and also attention to what they went through. And because a lot of them, they don't have a lot of people that they don't feel like they have people they can talk to. And especially if they're talking to myself or you, 'cause we're both veterans, they're more likely to tell a lot more of their story to us than they will to a guy that has them sit on a couch at the VA or the local community, mental health facility, because they feel more comfortable like they're at home with us and they'll share things that you really don't want to hear they have to let it out. So just let it out and sell us everything you got to tell us and we'll get you out there. And then, like you said, the editing it's been an uphill climb for me since I started this. So I started with a Mac and used just my Mac, headphones, and the actual microphone. Then I went to a little disposal, like a little portable mic. And then I went to a toner mic. Now I have a mic. I just keep moving up and up. So I have four mics now for one guy,
Scott DeLuzio 00:07:14 You know, that's one of the things when I, when I started, I didn't realize all the equipment that goes into it: the microphones, the camera, lights and all that kind of stuff that goes into it. No one sees that stuff. You could see my microphone right now on the screen, but no one sees all the other stuff that I have going on with this. And so you know, I've listened to podcasts. We've all listened to them along the way, but you never really think of all that stuff that goes into it. And as you start doing this, like, oh yeah, I need, I need that, that thing too, because this looks like clapper sounds like crap. So, I need something a little bit newer, a little bit better. So it's interesting to see how people get started with their podcasts and what their motivations are and everything. So I'm glad you shared that with us. But let's talk a little bit more about your, your transition and what that 365 day period, what did that look like for you? How was what was going through your mind through that time period? Because obviously, you're sitting there. There's no work. There's no whatever's going on with you at some point you had to probably start getting a little, little worried about what was going on.
Rich Lamonica 00:08:28 Definitely. I was more than worried. I was agitated a lot of times because I knew, I mean, that's sort of 22 years in the army. I had a skill set. I knew everything I learned in the army leadership-wise. I can manage things. I can, I can do a lot of things with chemical weapons or hazmat disposal and stuff. So I knew I would get hired right away when I came out, I had a degree in emergency management. So I knew I had all the things, all the blocks checked, but then when I started looking for jobs, oh, you went to that college. Oh, okay. What's that mean? It's still a college. I mean, I was in the army going and getting deployed, going to school. What were you doing? Oh, okay. But that went to that college. Okay. Oh, but you want too much money.
Rich Lamonica 00:09:06 I never asked for a salary. You never even asked me that question. You assumed I wanted more money. And you said no. So about, what's it, five months in five or six months in, we went on a retreat with the Chris Kyle frog foundation analysis, Taya and Chris Kyle foundation selected my wife and myself to go on a couples retreat to kind of unwind and get to know each other again. So they sent us to Destin, Florida, all expenses paid, but it's in this beautiful condo, overlooking the ocean. And they had their people come in to basically take care of us, make sure everything was going right. We're sitting on the beach. They kind of gave us some Chris Hall Foundation t-shirts. That's awesome. And dinner then Sunday ends. We're leaving when it's down. And they said Michelle's are interested. Are you looking for work?
Rich Lamonica 00:09:51 I said, yes, I'm looking for work. And I said, you can ask her if she wants me out of the house, I can't just sit with the dogs and drink beer all day. It's just, it doesn't work well. So she said, all right, look up. The mission continues. So I looked them up. I applied for a fellowship so that not the not paying job, but getting into like an internship kind of thing. So I did that for supposed to be six months. I lasted five and I got hired on full-time right at that 365 day. But along the way, the waves of emotions, I must really suck what is wrong with me? For 22 years, I was going, going, going, and I didn't know what to do with my hands. And all of a sudden I'm not worth anything. So I lost that self-worth. I lost that sense of purpose. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was looking at jobs, just taking contract jobs overseas, just for any reason, just to get a job. And then this, this happened, the shining light happened. I got the job after two years. And, that kind of, it kind of went south a little bit at the end because they were going through a change, but then this job popped up and it's been beautiful ever since.
Scott DeLuzio 00:10:55 Yeah. And that's something that you mentioned just a second ago that I think people need to realize. So you were in the army for 22 years, and that is a pretty long time to be at any job these days. A lot of people don't last that long in any job, five, maybe 10 years or pushing sometimes. And they move on to something else. But so you were in the army for 22 years. When, when did you get in?
Rich Lamonica 00:11:29 Yeah, when I acted in June 2015, came out.
Scott DeLuzio 00:11:34 And so about how old were you around that time?
Rich Lamonica 00:11:37 I was 20, 22 when I came in. I could do
Scott DeLuzio 00:11:41 Right. Then you go another 22 years on top of that, never having to worry about where your next paycheck coming from, how to apply for a job, how to go on an interview, fill out a resume, all that applications, all that stuff. You never had to worry about any of that stuff. And now you're fast forward to the end of your military career or in your mid-forties and, oh, crap. Now I have to figure all this stuff out. And when you never have to think about that stuff, it's something that just comes to you, to your, top of mind, I guess.
Rich Lamonica 00:12:23 Right. And when I came in 22 years of my life as a civilian in college in 22 years as a soldier, there was no internet. When I came into mint, came in the military. There was no digital age as we call it. Now, when I came out, everything was digital. You apply in line. What? Okay. And if I make a mistake, it just goes, I can't just go backspace, correct. Back to base. Correct. It wasn't there anymore. No paper resumes yet. They're still there, but people don't read them. You can give them to someone. Oh yes. Good. Thanks towards the side. We needed a computer. Wow. Okay. It's a whole new skill set.
Scott DeLuzio 00:12:58 Yeah. And I know that there's some companies out there, a lot of bigger companies anyways, that they will even, they'll even do like an automated review of transcripts where we're, when, when you're submitting your transcript if you don't have certain keywords in your, I, so I'm saying transcripts, I mean, I'm meaning resume. I'm thinking about podcasts again. When you submit your resume to them, that's what I was looking for. They have these keywords that they're looking for. If you don't have those keywords in your resume, they just kick it out and you don't even get a call back a lot of times from these companies. So you really do have to have the right mindset when you're applying for these jobs in order to get the interview, even never mind get the job. But just to be able to get in and actually have an interview, you need to be able to fill things out the right way. So it does take a little bit of learning. It takes some time to kind of figure all that stuff out. There's gotta be some resources out there that will help these veterans who are coming into the workforce, to figure out how to do all this stuff, because they never had to do it before. Right.
Rich Lamonica 00:14:18 Right. And definitely that, that's another thing that helped me. After I got the fellowship, my dog got hurt. So we were taken down to emergency day, knock on going down. I was looking on my phone for a place to do resumes. And I found Hired Heroes, USA. And I saw, I applied to them there to see what they could do for me. By the time I got to that vet clinic, they called me to do a little interview about what I needed. I sent them my, my, my version of my resume, what I thought was a good resume. I sent that to them and they sent me something back like two or three days later. I was like, wow, I'm pretty good. That would hire me right now. And once I got that resume, that's when I started getting bites. When they helped me with that resume, the bike started coming, and then they also did an interview prep. They call you to do a mock interview with you. They provided me with a suit. They had a mentor meet me right before an interview in DC. So we went through and went to lunch, calmed down, and did all that. It's a great organization. They really, really helped the transitioning veterans and their spouses.
Scott DeLuzio 00:15:21 That's another great organization too. I'm going to have links to these organizations that you mentioned so far in the show notes so that people can check those out. No, no sense in mentioning the men, not having information to help out people anyways. So we'll have all that in the show notes, but you mentioned earlier something about finding purpose or finding meaning with your life after, after service and, you know, serving in the military is immensely meaningful to the people who've served. It. There's, you're serving something way bigger than yourself. You're serving your country. And that has a lot of meaning and sense of purpose behind that. But after getting out, it's hard to find something that's quite as meaningful. Even if you find that dream job, sometimes it just isn't quite as meaningful as what you were doing in the military. So how did you go about finding that purpose after the military? How did, and how can other people maybe do the same?
Rich Lamonica 00:16:19 I think it was when I was doing my fellowship. I volunteered at the Red Cross or local Red Cross as well as in the military and the Red Cross sent me home twice from Korea for emergency leave. No questions asked Dave verified death and all that. But they sent me home from Korea from time and noticed the time getting back in the states was less than a day and Korea. So I knew what they did for the soldiers. I knew what they did for my soldiers while we were deployed to get them home. And in case they had any messages that had to get to them, they got it to them. So that's the only volunteer at the Red Cross to give back to them. So I learned the disaster side of it. I've learned the marketing side and helping people was just immensely purposeful for me.
Rich Lamonica 00:16:57 And now then seeing their faces during the change, their fire alarms was some of them just taped over them because they made noise. So we'd go in and take them out and put new ones in. Oh, we didn't know you did that. Well, we do. And here you go. Now your house is kind of safe. Let's make a fire plan and get you out of here in case something does happen. You have a map of how to get out of your house now. Oh, this is great. So you see the smiles. A lot of the kids are happy and they're a little safer. That gives you that heartbeat that you had when you were on patrol or your guys. I'm doing something for a reason. Now. I'm not just here for me, I'm here for them. So that's where I started to find my sense of purpose again.
Rich Lamonica 00:17:32 And when I got in with the mission as an employee, every quarter we'd go to a different city, different major city and do a service project with the fellows. And you go to, it's usually, a place in the city that's not doing well and you'll be there to clean up a playground or spruce up a school. Kids are happy to go to school again in LA, we did I think five or six schools in one week. It was amazing just to see the transformation from basically very dull-looking schools to bright schools where kids don't want to go there. I don't want to stay home. I don't want to run on the streets. So that's where I started to find my purpose again, right there.
Scott DeLuzio 00:18:10 And those are great things to the Red Cross. I know that is definitely a very impactful organization. When you have people, especially deployed overseas, getting those messages and things like that, going back and forth. That's really important. They do other things too, not just for the military, but they do other things as well. I know when my brother passed away, there was a huge turnout at the funeral in the wake and everything before, while we're doing all that and the Red Cross actually came out and passed out. Because it was a hot summer day and everything they'd be out there, helping, helping the community, passing out water. Because there probably would be people passing out and standing in mind. Because there's just so many people who were, who were coming out and, and so they, they do a lot of great things like that.
Scott DeLuzio 00:19:09 And so it's a really good organization. And then like you said, those other service projects, that also is a way to find a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning. And I think when people are getting out of the military bait, they tend to focus on the job that they're trying to do, but what's the next, where's the next paycheck coming from. But like you said, there's volunteer opportunities too. That could be just as meaningful, if not more meaningful than, some of the other things that they could be doing. So, volunteer opportunities are a great way to give back. And there's plenty of other things that you can volunteer with. You just have to find something that is meaningful to you, that you're going to be willing to invest some of your time and efforts into, to give back to whatever closet is.
Rich Lamonica 00:20:04 And there's plenty of places in every community. Every city has nonprofits that are always begging for volunteers, right? And like you said, it has to be something that's in your niche. That's something that you want to do to something that's going to that you're really passionate for. So if it's helping people through a disaster, like we just had these tornadoes come through here last weekend, just north of us and, the Red Cross is there. Team Rubicons up there all the people that just jumped in their Jeeps and went up their chainsaws or went there just to volunteer, to help people. Do you want to do that? Do you want to get in there and help them? And you can get in there. This is your choice. This is your chance right now to go help people.
Rich Lamonica 00:20:38 The Red Cross always looks at volunteers. They want people to come in to learn the disaster prep, to be there in case before the emergency so that when an emergency happens, they're trained and ready to be the calm voice. When the emergency happens, say, Hey Scott, we got these blankets for you. We'll take care of you and your family to stay calm, have this hot coffee, hot coat over your kids. We'll put you in a hotel for probably a month now. Because we noticed it's pretty bad damage. And then we'll work on your plan after that, then that just gives you that, oh, there's someone here for me. They're here to help me. I'm going to be good. He's a good person. And then you in turn will give back. Once you get off and come, come back and that spiral comes back up for you.
Rich Lamonica 00:21:17 How do you pay it forward? I'm going to volunteer with the Red Cross now, or I'm going to volunteer with Team Rubicon who came in rebuilt my, my mom's house after it flooded, they got, they muffed it out, put all the drywall back up, and gave her a plan of action to make it better for the next flood. If there's another flood, how can she prepare better for that one? And that's how all these organizations kind of grow their own from inside. Once they help you, they know you're going to come help them or at least a portion of the people that help will help them.
Scott DeLuzio 00:21:44 Right? Yeah. You're not going to get everybody, but you're going to get some people who come back in and want to give back because of how impactful and how great they were for them in their time of need. They're just gonna want to give back that way. So when you, when you talk with other veterans, what are some of the roadblocks that you find them hitting through their, whether it's their transition journey or other things in their life, as they're getting back into the civilian world,
Rich Lamonica 00:22:18 Some of the ones that are transitioning, their expectations are a lot higher than it should be. So they get let down pretty quickly. So they hear all these stories of people or they see people who have been out for a long time and are doing well. And they think that's going to happen to them. The day they walk out the military, it doesn't happen like that. I know that, but it's just getting her aperture to say, Hey I have to aim small. Let me aim small, get in the door, prove my worth and move up. Don't be the guy that comes in like a tornado. And on the one hand, I'm the boss. Now I'm here. I'm going to do this. And I'm going to work nine, eight hours today. I'm gonna get a hundred thousand things done and you're going to look like crap.
Rich Lamonica 00:22:57 Don't do that. Then you can get pushed out that doesn't work in the civilian world. You don't get awards for that in the civilian world, they get, they're frowned upon to do more work than you're supposed to. You got the contract to do X amount of work and that's it. You stop. And that's the thing that roadblocks on them. And then like the some of the ones that wind up going down the tunnel of darkness, it's the loss that the adrenaline rush. Some of them it's when you know when you're overseas, you're on 24, 7 all day long, you're on, on, on. And then you come home. What happens? I don't have that rush anymore. I have to do something to get that rush, get that adrenaline going back up again. So it's either do something extreme sports or do something that's going to hurt myself, somehow driving a truck into a tree or shooting things that should, I shouldn't be shooting at doing things like that. And winding up on the even bigger spiral until ultimately someone is lost in that, in that case. So if we can talk them out of that spiral to say, look, the adrenaline will resolve itself after a while, you're going to get older. So you're going to make it just start doing other things, do things to help others, or do things to help yourself or your family pay attention to your family. You're not deployed anymore with them. You're not in the military and working with the people you'd be present for.
Scott DeLuzio 00:24:14 And I think being present is a hard thing to do, especially with what you're talking about in general. And when you're coming back from deployment when you're always with the head on a swivel, you'd think that you would be more present in that moment you're paying attention to the things that are around you, but you're, you're not paying attention to your maybe your kid who wants to play, or your wife wants to have a conversation you're paying attention to, the house secure, we're out in a crowded area, where are the threats coming from? What's going on here? That type of thing is what you're looking at. And you're not being present with the people who need you there. So
Rich Lamonica 00:25:03 We'll do the most.
Scott DeLuzio 00:25:04 Yeah, exactly.
Rich Lamonica 00:25:06 The, like you said, and you go into a restaurant and you're looking for the way out and you're looking for who might be the, threatening your backs against the wall right away. You don't want to sit with your back to the door or back towards anyone, you move tables around. So you can be, have your back to a wall. So you have some kind of barrier between you and whatever bad guy might be behind you. And that's all part of that. It's ingraining anxiety after you deploy so many times, or we're trained so much that something bad will happen. It's ingrained. It's that you have to protect the whole building. Now I walk in, I mean, there's times I would, when I was doing my 365 days, I clear my house. I take my dogs and we clear out a room in the house just to stay focused. I guess that would keep me, keep my skill set. Right? That's sorry, you go first. I'm going right. You go left, you go, let's go do this. And my dog was well, looked at me as a special ed kid and I went into it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:25:55 Yeah. And I'm not going to lie. I've done that too. Where, where I've gone through. And I just, I was like, let's just go through and clear it or find, find something to do just to keep yourself sharp. It's an okay thing to do to have that, that mindset. But you have to be able to turn it off there. There has to be a part of you. That part of you is not going to change you. You're, you've learned how to be alert and aware of your surroundings and all that stuff. And that's great. But when you're sitting home in, small town in the USA, you're not having to keep that same head on a swivel the way you do in downtown Baghdad or Kaboom or wherever you happen to be, you don't have to have that same kind of mindset and attitude all the time. Now, if you happen to notice something that's out of the ordinary, that's something that is a threat, an actual threat when that happens. And it's just a matter of turning it, turning that back on at that point when it's appropriate, but it's not something that you need to have on all the time. So, that makes sense.
Rich Lamonica 00:27:16 Like for most guys and gals it'll turn on automatically, if a threat arises that that switch turns on and then they're not present anyway, they're just tough. They tell their family to get down and then do what they gotta do to help others in the moment. So that switch can turn on and off. We know we can turn on and off. It's just, you need to learn to turn it off or at least turn it down a little bit. So you can be there, eat your case of the, and have a good time.
Scott DeLuzio 00:27:39 I mean, these ideas are always a good time. So, and when, when people are in this process where they're learning how to deal with civilian life there, they're going to have good and bad days. Right. How do you fight through the bad days? W w what are you, what do you give for advice, or how have you fought through some of your bad days? Oh, so
Rich Lamonica 00:28:10 My first job was with a lot of younger generation people who never served. And we're working with veterans and telling veterans how to talk to veterans. So that really referred to all the veterans in my part of the office. Like, don't tell us how to talk to our people. This is our people, we talk to them. So there's days I'm going to go work from home on that. I'll go walk around the block on the phone, cause I'd have to call the veterans and talk to them and the fellows. So I just walked around the block outside just to cool down there and saw some downtown St. Louis walking on my phone and talking with the veteran and making sure they're all right during their fellowship and seeing if they need anything from me, as far as they, they're transitioned to any tips or tricks that got me through that 365 and anything I learned along the way. But that's what I would always walk away with is probably my biggest thing just to do. All right. I got to go and set my phone alarm on my thing on my phone, and I just made sure it rang right when they started talking, I got to go and I left just so I didn't have to get angry and just get irate. Like my coworkers were,
Scott DeLuzio 00:29:11 I mean, walking away is a good, good way to deal with some of that stuff too, because sometimes, like you said, sometimes people just don't quite understand what you might be going through. And they may, they may just never understand. He can try to explain it a thousand different ways, but they may just not understand. Sometimes you just have to walk away,
Rich Lamonica 00:29:35 They just don't know what they don't know, and they don't want to know what they don't know. They want to know what they're doing and what's about them and how they're, they're a little part of the work is getting done. Not about what you're doing, what I'm doing or anyone else's that's that, and all right. See you later,
Scott DeLuzio 00:29:50 Or even how you're doing right
Rich Lamonica 00:29:52 There. We never asked that. No.
Scott DeLuzio 00:29:54 Yeah. And that's just, I don't know why, but it's just one of those questions that doesn't really come to the top of mind with a lot of people when, unless you're really having a crappy day and you're, you're, you're just such a bad attitude. Then when, when they ask you, it's going to be more like, what's up with you. Not, not like, how are you doing it's what's going on? This has to change like w w what's going on here. So Maybe you should go for that. Walk
Rich Lamonica 00:30:32 It all of a sudden now it's all, it's all senior listed veterans retirees, and then one active-duty senior NCO. So it's kind of like a locker room. A lot of times its kind of like being on deployment most times, unless someone important walks in, it's basically like being on a deployment almost every day. The same kind of stuff goes on in there, just older guys doing it.
Scott DeLuzio 00:30:54 So you also host the podcast about the Misfit Nation, and I want to make sure that we have a chance to talk a little bit more about that. You and I recorded an episode recently that I mentioned earlier. So again, if you haven't checked out that episode yet for the listeners, go, go check out the misfit nation podcast for that episode and, and others that you have done. So give us a little, little background on the podcast, who are your target, our target audience, who are the people that you're looking for and, and what type of guests you had on there.
Rich Lamonica 00:31:30 So the Misfit Nation came about in 2010 on deployment in Kandahar Afghanistan. I came home from creating a basically full July weekend or first week of June-ish. And 60 days later, I went from Fort Campbell, Korea to Fort Campbell, to Korea, to Afghanistan in 60 days. And I fell in with a platoon. They were already in combat for April. So a lot of losses, a lot of heavy fighting in Kandahar at that time. And at the time of the surge, they didn't have a platoon Sergeant, but they had a group of misfit toys, a bunch of soldiers who from different MOS are in different platoons, different battalions, and in different companies. I mean, that just weren't the ones that they wanted in those companies. So they put them all together to be the QRF for the, for the base. They said, all right.
Rich Lamonica 00:32:13 You're not a platoon SAR. Oh, okay. So on my first, down on the fall, we get hit with rockets and I just gotta watch them do what they do, how they reacted, how they reacted to the rocket attack, how they helped people and how they moved on. And then I was, I just worked with him that day. And then I told him who I was. Is there any new tune? Sorry, we're going to do this XXX. And my first two episodes actually had a couple of my soldiers on and three of my soldiers, Ron, the first two episodes told their story of how, how the misfits came about and,, Ramo bird, Chris, when I'm off, Shantelle coming now Watts, all three of them were on the show and they all told different, very different views of the story from their own personal, effects of the story.
Rich Lamonica 00:32:53 So Chris was one of the first ones I met as a young Sergeant. I walk up and these two young sergeants walk up and he is just full of dirt, like head to toe. If I Pigpen from the peanuts, I said, what are you two doing? Oh, we're building these towers. Aren't so where the soldiers, the garden, the towers are all right. Well, it's good work. So that's how I met them too. And then Berg came to me in December about this time actually, he actually got hit with a request rifle, knocked him out. So he got knocked unconscious. And after he came from front, he came to my platoon. So he left his between Kim opportune at that point. And I took him under my wing. It's like my little brother now, and Shantelle was supposed to be in my actual position. I was a Ray competent, but she was put up in the B dock-based defense operation center.
Rich Lamonica 00:33:39 And so she was my eyes and ears up there and she was smart. She was strong or physical specimen. She could, I gave her a PT test after she was on shift all night. She did a 12-hour shift overnight. And did the PT test. And as soon as you got off shift and nearly maxed it out, the only thing he got, it was a run. So she was, she was a study and still is now. She does Zumba now. Amazing, amazing young woman. So they would have a core of the misfits. And then we kind of stayed together a December 31st, 2010. The other young Sergeant, I was of the pig pens there, Sergeant Michael Beckerman. He went to alpha company because they were short on engineers and he went to help them. And they were going into a breach and either handled Lieutenant. And one of the other triggered an ID.
Rich Lamonica 00:34:21 The Lieutenant became a triple amputee and we lost our Michael Beckerman that day. And that just made us tighter as a group and made us become tighter. And I knew at that point I had to keep them all together in order to not have third-order effects. So if we go out on our patrol presence, patrol around the fob and they just see something, they don't like looking at them, what are they going to do? Are they going to go nuts? Am I going to go nuts? Because I'm angry now. And this is December. We don't go home until April. So that's full and I want to keep this all together. Try to keep our crap together, keep heads together. And that just made us all tighter and tighter, tighter. We redeployed, came back to Campbell, stay close and we've been close ever since we all still stay in contact every holiday and always texting each other in between holidays as well.
Rich Lamonica 00:35:05 December 31st, whoever's around for the cab. We went to the bench for a Memorial and we drank a beer with some back. They would give a couple of shots of whiskey and we leave there and we drive on. So the misfits have been around since 2010. The podcast itself started as a brain, a brain, a thrust of mine last year. About this time I realized I had, and I was working about 40 hours a week for my job, doing schoolwork for my doctorate, the rest of the hours I realized I had about eight hours left a day as let me start, let me think of something. So I will research all podcasts. So let's start a podcast. And my first guests were forced misfits, excuse me.
Rich Lamonica 00:35:48 From there, I was going to do just veterans all the time, just have veterans on that and tell their stories, have them get their voice out there. And then I realized there's other people out there that can help these veterans. So let's get them on here to stay what they can give them. As far as resources, either for starting businesses, where even just getting mental health care, that's not something that's going to make them feel awkward. It's someone that's actually going to help them. So I started getting guests like Virginia crews. You had her on your show as well. Great advocate for mental health. And she's pretty hard as nails. She'll tell them what's on her mind and let them know they're all right, and get them on and dope. Tyler Jeffcoat, the seller's accountant on that, showing them how to account for your small businesses.
Rich Lamonica 00:36:36 Real good guy. Scott Miller had on a couple of weeks ago, the mentor, he has the mentor podcast, really motivated dude, a lot of energy, really good to have on showing you ways to be motivated, how they find mentors. And I had a lot of veteranpreneurs and a lot of these young guys and gals got out and said, I'm going to start a business. Even there's a couple of cars stolen, a young Navy guy. That's still in the Navy. He started a business and he was on the show. I guess he's about a year from transitioning out. So he has his own business clothing line. And he also gives back to those of the fallen. He gives things to the fall and family. So he does a lot of good things. So along the way, I've transitioned from just veterans to try and get a hodgepodge of guests that can help veterans but always put the veteran first.
Rich Lamonica 00:37:21 Like if you wrote me today, said, I want to come on and show you, get me up to the top of the, or if you're a veteran, know if you're a person that has a better non-profit, that's going to help a veteran and a researcher and you've done it. You're coming up there pretty close as well. And then everyone else will kind of tear after. So yeah, you're pretty good to be on a show. So the mission is to keep the veteran's story going. I like to, if they're telling your story, it's getting out of them. They feel better. And that as well as I do, the more you tell your story, the better you are. If they're starting their business, they need that leg up. Come on here. You get to get your voice out. Tell us what your story is. Give me your business pitch. Give me your 30-second elevator speech. We'll get it out there.
Scott DeLuzio 00:38:03 Yeah. That's, that's a great service, for the veterans who need to talk and don't have maybe somebody in their lives that they can talk to and feel comfortable with talking. So coming on just chatting with another veteran and having that conversation really, really helps. One thing that you mentioned before when you're talking about, the soldiers that you were with, who came on and gave their point of view from, from the different, there are different points of view for the various events that took place. It's something that I've noticed over time, that two people can experience the same exact situation and have completely different perspectives on what took place from that event. And it's, it's really interesting to me to hear the different sides of things. And I think that's another thing that podcasts like yours and mine are doing well because we're allowing those people to come on and give their point of view, their perspective of whatever they experienced. Now, there might be someone else who they served with and they experienced the same thing. They were in the same firefight or they're on the same deployment, but their perspective was different because they didn't see things the same way. They didn't feel things or, or whatever the census that was involved or even if they saw exactly the same thing, maybe it just affected them differently. And so they've retained it differently. And it's just interesting to hear the varying degrees of the perspectives that are out there from, from different people.
Rich Lamonica 00:39:54 And that's something you see, like when they do awards, like a medal of honor, like there's three guys got the metal arm today, all the stories that went into getting, they had to interview everyone. I was in the area at the time. So just imagine if they went to a whole battoon for a single cash, he finally got his from 2003, I think, or 2004, his platoon probably got interviewed multiple times for, say, seven guys. Each one of them is at a different angle of the attack. What happened that day while I was here and I saw the guy shooting from the Northeast and then the guy to his left, I saw him shooting from the Southeast. Well, that'd be behind you. We have signs in front of them. Oh, okay. So you got the different aspects of the story and that's how they got to bring all that together in order to get the narrative for what that soldier that hero did. Just imagine that guy has to compile that or to go to the officer that sits there and read through that or listen to the transcripts. Wow. This is a great battle. We just make a movie and that's usually what happens.
Scott DeLuzio 00:40:49 Well, especially with things like that, where the events of that day, especially the one that you're, you're talking about there, definitely pretty incredible. So anyone who hasn't heard about that, go, go check out the medal of honor citation. And there's plenty of articles out there that talk about what, what he had done, and everything. I just, I can't believe that someone would, would go, go through that and do that for their, for their fellow soldiers.
Rich Lamonica 00:41:19 I can't believe it took this long for it to be awarded to him.
Scott DeLuzio 00:41:23 Well, that too, that, that to me just blows my mind. Why did it even take
Rich Lamonica 00:41:30 More than,
Scott DeLuzio 00:41:31 Yeah. Why did it take more than that initial investigation process? Why do they take any, any longer than that? Because to me, it just seems clear cut after, after that. But that's above my pay grade. I guess
Rich Lamonica 00:41:44 We have, the outpost is another one that I wrote Michelle and Carter, that movie, the book is way better than we like when you like it usually. But I mean, the movie brings to light just a lot of the chaos that goes on during a battle, you see dust in the movie if someone has never been awarded, ever been in the military, they see everything that's going on. Just a one-shot of that, of that movie. You're like, oh, like, how do these dudes do this on a daily basis? And that's what these soldiers and sailors and Marines, they go through all the time and they got to come out and write down what they see. And sometimes they don't even know what they see. I don't know what happened, but I'm gonna write down what I think happened.
Scott DeLuzio 00:42:23 Yeah. The reports that come out afterwards and they may have to do these reports all the time. Right? Anytime that there's incidents like that, they have to do these types of reports. And the last thing you're thinking about when you're in a firefight is what am I going to put down in this report? Nobody's thinking that, but it's just relying on your memory from, from after the fact. And you don't always have the best recollection of what took place, but that's why they have to interview everybody who was there. So you can take all those pieces, piece it together and try to get some semblance of what actually happened
Rich Lamonica 00:43:03 As it becomes like a puzzle at that point in the, not like you sit in, we're not just to come out with a voice recorder during the battle loading set right on ammo, and then go through the fight. You're not going to do that. If you are good at it. I guess if you, if you have a pocket recorder with you and going on throwing awesome, you're you're above me. So that's great. But no, no one does.
Scott DeLuzio 00:43:25 Yeah. On occasion, you might have somebody who had a helmet cam or something like that, where, where their record actually recording what's taken place. But again, that's just from their perspective, that's not showing the whole situation. That's, that's pretty much just what they're seeing. And so it's helpful because you can hear the things that were being said and possibly see some of the things that were taking place, but it's not going to give a full picture of everything that happened.
Rich Lamonica 00:43:53 Yeah. The helmet cam will give you the, basically the 90-degree angle of you, but you're looking at, in front of you and then not the 360 version, you'll hear the shots and everything, but nothing else. Yeah, definitely.
Scott DeLuzio 00:44:03 Exactly. Yeah. So, well, Rich, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today. Where can people go to find out more about your podcast and everything else that you do?
Rich Lamonica 00:44:13 It can go to theMisfitNation.com This is where all our episodes are on. There are YouTube videos on here as well. YouTube is a misfit _ misfit nation Facebook, a, the actual pages, the misfit nation, I think, or misfit nation, Instagram, misfitnation. So it's all mostly the Misfit Nation, except LinkedIn is my name, Rich Lamonica. That's the professional sites. So you give a real name so people can find you that they email me, at [email protected] If they have any questions or message me through the website.
Scott DeLuzio 00:44:50 Excellent. And I, again, I'll have links to all of this stuff in the show notes, including the other resources that you talked about, the mission continues, and hire heroes. USA I'll have links to all that stuff in the show notes. So people can find that and hopefully put those to good use and also check out your podcast as well. So thanks again, Rich for joining me. It's been a pleasure speaking with you. I really enjoyed this conversation and look forward to hearing more about what you're up to and listening to your podcast as well.
Rich Lamonica 00:45:19 Awesome. Thanks, Scott. Great talking to you again this week and hopefully about a year from now. I mean, you can talk again and see how both sides are doing.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:26 Yeah, absolutely. Looking forward to it.
Rich Lamonica 00:45:29 Thanks.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:30 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 also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast.