Tag Archives: success

What Do You Do When Someone Disrespects You?

How to Handle a Hostile Civilian

1-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Toldos – Genesis 25:19-28:9

The sailors who come to WTP Sembach agree that civilians appreciate our sacrifices. When they say, “Thank you for your service,” they mean it. But what do we make of the small numbers who attack us?

What Do You Do When Someone Disrespects You-

Fear Hinders Advancement

People who hate service members like to get into your face. Such disrespect shows can’t reason with them. But if you understand one of their motivations, you can learn to ignore them. Parshas Toldos explains:

“And Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us for you have become much mightier than we!’” (Bereshis/Genesis 26:16)

A famine forced Isaac to go live in Abimelech’s kingdom in Gerar. There his wealth increased a hundredfold. He bought huge flocks of sheep and goats. He acquired many businesses. As a result, the Philistines chose to envy him.

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They didn't have to be jealous. They could have learned from Isaac. Had they adopted his practices or faith, G-d might have enriched them too. Fear caused them to overlook the path to a better life.

Fight Your Anger with Pity

Watching a movie or TV show that portrayed actual military life would bore most people to tears. So unless you’re in it, you don't know what it's like. Nonetheless, most civilians choose to treat us respectfully. They may be atoning for the way Vietnam veterans were treated. We still benefit.

For a minority of civilians, the unknown creates fear. They know what we do is hard. Sometimes it’s dangerous. They can’t do what we do. Rather than learning about our work, they treat us like Abimelech treated Isaac. “Go away!” Without saying we’re mightier than them, they expose their weakness. Their attacks have nothing to do with us. They’re an expression of self-doubt.

Instead of getting angry, consider how sad these people are. Too afraid to learn something new, they lash out. We’ve never hurt them. But they seek to demean us and our service. We should pity them. Like the Philistines, fear has caused them to overlook the path to a better life. From that perspective, you can ignore them.

Has a civilian accosted you?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Do You Improve Resilience with Every Task?

How Botched Undertakings Lead to Success

4 minutes to read

Guten tag. You may not have heard. But a couple of weeks ago the Navy deployed me to the Warrior Transition Program in Sembach, Germany. My last active duty time was two years ago. A funny thing happened on the way to reintegrating to military life…

Do You Improve Resilience with Every Task-

My Bungled Cross-Country Run

Reservists and individual augmentees who have been in AFRICOM and CENTCOM come to WTP on their way home. The Navy calls our program a Third Location Decompression point. Sailors can catch up on sleep, learn about the transition process, and make plans for the future.

Among other duties, I go with the participants on trips off base. One trip takes place on Saturday, for me the Sabbath. So I can’t ride the bus there. I also can't ride a bike or horse. In other words, I have to walk.

Kaiserslautern is 13 kilometers from the base. Now I often run 8 miles. So last Tuesday I decided to make a test run there. I printed out a map and hit the road. The weather was great – cool with the sun shining. After three miles I had run through the villages of Sembach and Melighen. The trouble began.

German roads aren't marked. So I had no idea that when I hit the outskirts of Melighen I was already off course. A short time later, the road turned into a wide dirt path. Crops and paddocks of horses lined both sides. Rain the night before meant concentrating on avoiding huge mud puddles.

At the six-mile mark, I came to a crossroads. Realizing I was off my mapped course, I decided to ask for directions. Then I realized my German was limited to what I learned watching Hogan’s Heroes.

I came up with a plan. I’d interrupt a hiker with bitte (please). Then I’d name my destination and point in a direction. If the person responded yah, that’s the direction I’d go. If he said nein, I’d point toward the other one and repeat, “Kaiserslautern?” Soon a lady came walking toward me.

Me: “Bitte, Kaiserslautern?” pointing the way she had come. A quizzical look came over her face.
Her: “Yah, Kaiserslautern,” pointing behind her. Bingo, I was on the right track.
Me: “Danke!” (Thank you!) Off I ran confidently.

Two more crossroads necessitated further exercises of my limited German. The third was with a man walking four big dogs that eyed me hungrily and barked so loud we could hardly hear each other. He appeared perplexed as he tried to figure out how to direct me. Finally, he pointed me down the road at what I realized was a town.

Since my Fitbit showed eight miles, I thought this had to be Kaiserslautern. But I wondered at his confusion. Once there, I realized it was too small to be Kaiserslautern. Half a mile down the road, back on a main highway, I came to a sign that read, “Kaiserslautern 11 km.” It pointed to a leaf-covered dirt path blocked by a heavy chain. Discretion got the better of valor. I headed back to the town I had just passed.

Soon, I realized where I was. I had made a huge circular run through the countryside and was back in Melighen. Essentially, I was back to where I’d started.

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It hit me then. I was living the transition nightmare.

4 Takeaways to Apply to Your Transition

My two and a quarter hour run showed me:

1. Get the most precise map available. I’m still not sure where I got off course. The map I downloaded didn't give me enough detail to know. When you travel through new territory you can make a wrong turn without realizing it. You have to get pretty far down the road before you realize your mistake. With lots of waypoints marked on your map, you’ll have a better chance of catching an error sooner.

2. Make sure you can communicate with the people you ask for help. None of the people I asked for directions misled me. After all, I found the road to Kaiserslautern. But I couldn't ask them how far it was or if a pedestrian could traverse the road. A couple of phrases like “How far to Kaiserslautern?” and “Is there a footpath to Kaiserslautern?” would have helped me. Make sure you learn some “civilian” or find a veteran who can translate for you.

3. Learn from not reaching your goal. Though I didn't reach Kaiserslautern, the run was useful. I realized that by car the trip was 13 km. But by foot, it was much longer, even without getting lost. And, I would have to travel on a road with no sidewalk. I won’t meet my goal of walking to Kaiserslautern on the Sabbath. But that’s okay.

4. Be open to new possibilities. My commanding officer got a big laugh at my adventure. She gave me a good-natured “I told you so.” But she respected that I put the program first and made the effort. In the end, since some people don't go on the trip, I’ll spend time with those who stay behind. I’m living one of my most cherished aphorisms.

No doubt they’ll be more amusing lessons coming from the next ten months in Germany. You can be sure I’ll pass them on for your benefit. I’ll also write a few posts about the places I visit. In the meantime, if you're struggling with any of the issues above, or a different one, get in touch. I may not know my way around Germany. But I can help you navigate the transition from military to civilian life.

Where are you stuck or think you’ll get stuck in your transition?
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Do You See Yourself as Just a Veteran?

How to Use Spiritual Power to Drive Your Transition

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Lech Lecha – Genesis 12:1-17:27

Earlier this evening a shipmate asked me why veterans cling so tightly to their military identity. He’s known too many who couldn’t see the potential for enriching it in civilian life. Year after year they struggle to connect with non-military people. And their job prospects go nowhere.

Do You See Yourself as Just a Veteran


A Limited Self-Image Subjects You to Defeat

A large part of my work involves helping veterans see themselves in a new light as they reintegrate to civilian life. The process is age-old. Parshas Lech Lecha shows it's priceless:

“…his initiates who had been born in his house – 318 – and [Abraham] gave chase as far as Dan.” (Bereshis/Genesis 14:14)

Abram, later renamed Abraham, won a war against the armies of four kings. They’re the same ones who had defeated the armies of five kings. Yet Abram had just 318 soldiers. He had no tanks, jets, or other overwhelming firepower. Such a victory seems impossible.

At 75 years old, Abram took his wife Sarai, who was 65, and Lot to a strange land. You would expect the local inhabitants to overrun them. Yet they prospered.

As a small group, Abram and his family went to Egypt. Pharoah desired Sarai. How difficult would it have been for Pharaoh to kill Abram and take his wife? Instead, they leave Egypt with greater wealth than they brought there.

After that, Abram defeated four of the most powerful kings in the world.

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Do you see a pattern to these events? If you focus only on the physical dimension it would seem the stronger side would have had to win.

The Power of a Revised Identity

The four kings saw themselves as great warriors. They confused their enemy’s greater corruption with their own strength. So they thought they could take Lot captive and break Abram’s spirit. Had they had Abram’s, or even Pharaoh’s, perceptiveness they would have realized such an endeavor had to fail.

Pharaoh identified himself as a deified monarch. But at least he had more insight than the four kings. Since G-d afflicted his household, he knew he could not defeat Abram. So he let him go.

In all Abram’s trials, the moral and spiritual dimensions dominated. By following G-d’s commandment to leave his home, Abram enlarged his identity. Over time he gained deep clarity about his reshaped persona. The Almighty recognized his development by rewarding his effort and amending his name to Abraham.

Put spiritual power behind your transition to civilian life. Find a quiet place to think about these two questions. Play some music that will inspire introspection. Write out your answers. Longhand will produce a greater impact than typing.

1. Who are you now? You’re already more than a veteran. You may have the roles of spouse, parent, child, and sibling. You may have a passion that makes up a part of your current identity. Write them down. Develop a hierarchy among the various facets.

2. Who do you need to be? As you approach or navigate civilian life, determine the components to add to your identity. Broaden your professional dimension. Consider facets to discard in favor in new ones that will help you better reintegrate. Review and alter your hierarchy as necessary.

Gain clarity on your reshaped persona. Doing so will focus your spiritual energy on reaching your transition objectives. You’ll communicate better with people who can help you. And you’ll show the Almighty you’ve done the hard work worthy of reward.

Have you been in a situation where the spiritual factor meant triumph rather than defeat?

Please comment on this question or ask another question below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

You Can Break Military Occupational Specialty Codes…

2-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

Last week’s post showed how to assess the experience and educational level of military people. You saw the typical veteran is ahead of his civilian peers on both counts. But businesses and veterans struggle to understand each other when talking about skills. Nonetheless, you can pinpoint the ones you need. The bureaucratic nature of the military will do most of the work for you.

How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

Job Specialties by the Numbers

Next time you meet a veteran, ask him what his military specialty was. Chances are you’ll get an answer like, “I was an 11 bravo.” Bravo is the phonetic alphabet equivalent of the letter B. The number and letter combination is called a Military Occupational Specialty Code. The Army has about 190 of them.

Each branch of the military classifies its people according to codes. They go by the following names:

Army - Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Army – Warrant Officers: Warrant Officer Military Occupational Specialty Code (WOMOS)

Army – Officers: Area of Concentration (AOC)

Marine Corps – Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Marine Corps – Officers: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Navy - Enlisted: Rating

Navy - Officer: Designator

Air Force – Enlisted: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Air Force – Officers: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Each service has a different coding system. Most are combinations of numbers and letters. The Navy is the last holdout for using names, such a yeoman or SWO (Surface Warfare Officer). The links in the above list will take you to guidance current as of this writing.

In addition to these basic classifications, service members can earn specialty designations. Again, they go by different names. The Army has ASIs, Additional Skill Identifiers. The Navy has NEBCs, Navy Enlisted Billet Classification codes. In a simple example, if you need an office manager, the related Navy rating is a yeoman with a NEBC of 1815 – Office Manager.

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Many service members haven't done the paperwork to get these designations. But they’ll know the ones relevant to their job specialty. If you choose to learn ASIs, NECBs, and the like, you can be even more specific about your job needs.

Put Your New Knowledge into Practice

Let’s look at an example of how this can work in practice. Say you need a geographic information system (GIS) analyst. The military is the perfect place to find one. Every service branch has this job specialty.

The relevant codes are:

Army: 12Y – Geospatial Engineer and 35G -Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst

Marine Corps: 0261 – Geographic Intelligence Specialist

Navy: AG - Aerographer's Mate

Air Force: 3E5X1 – Engineering

The names associated with the codes can be deceiving. Service members in these job specialties get trained in and use GIS systems.

Combine this information with what you learned in my previous post. If you want an entry-level GIS analyst, look for a veteran in the E-3 or E-4 pay grades. He’ll have a working knowledge of various systems. If you want a more experienced analyst who can be a team leader, target the E-5 and E-6 pay grades.

An E-6 with 8 years of military service earns $62,600 after adjusting his pay for the third that’s non-taxable. Salaries I’ve seen for GIS analysts range up to $70,000 so pay expectations mesh. Figure out the typical pay of a service member you're targeting using my Military-to-Civilian Pay Convertor.

When you post your job openings, include language like the following:



Seeking E-5s or E-6s in military specialties

Army - 12Y or 35G, Marine Corps – 0261, Navy – AG, Air Force - 3E5X1

Consider posting your job opening in veteran’s groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Although there are hundreds of specialties, many won’t apply to your organization. Once you learn the ones that do, you can communicate your specific needs.  Your ability to speak directly to veterans will give you a competitive advantage. Now go out and hire adaptable, well-trained, experienced military people.

What do you find most confusing about how the military personnel structure works?

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How to Improve Your Company by Hiring Veterans

25 Benefits Military People Bring to the Table

2-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: I wrote this for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

You want to help veterans make a smoother transition to civilian life. But you don't know any or know just a handful. You’d like to make an impact. But you’ve got your job and family responsibilities. So it can't be a full-time endeavor. Everyone is so busy these days. What can you do that has a limited time commitment?

How to Improve Your Company by Hiring Veterans

A Quick Assessment of Your Knowledge

Last week I mentioned three things you can do to shrink the military-civilian divide:

  1. Understand military culture.
  2. Identify the benefits of hiring veterans.
  3. Use the military personnel structure.

Start by assessing what you know about the military and its culture. If your knowledge comes from movies and television it’s not accurate. Take this online course on the basics of military structure and culture. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Though it’s geared to mental health professionals, you’ll find it useful. Ninety-five percent of what it covers applies to anyone who wants to know more about the military.

Having figured out what you know, you can fill in the gaps. Check out these resources for learning military language and service specific values:

Summary of core value for each service branch

List of military terms and acronyms

Military lingo

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After an hour or two, you’ll be better prepared to understand military people. Keep the terms and lingo cheat sheets on your cell phone for easy access.

Qualities and Soft Skills

Now that you can communicate with veterans better, you’re ready to take the next step. To help military people find the right job, determine how they can help an organization. Start by the learning how military training and service benefits them. Not every service member gains these 20 qualities and skills. But by and large, you’ll find a high correlation between the list and what they bring to the table as prospective employees.

Other benefits of employing military people are:

  1. Mission-Focused. No organization is more mission-focused than the military. Service members learn to keep that end goal in sight. Hence they exercise creativity when bureaucracy makes reaching it more difficult.
  2. Respect Policies & Procedures. Military people know how to work within policies, even when they disagree with them. They find ways to finesse them from time to time. But they won't violate them, especially when they understand their rationale.
  3. Intuitive. Much of military training inculcates the ability to respond with little thought. Intuition takes over. Given the speed of commerce, such a skill has great value to a company.
  4. Candor. Hidden problems in the military cost lives and valuable equipment. When something is wrong, service members learn to speak up. They’re direct but respectful. In the private sector, such candor can be off putting. Veterans need to tone it down. At the same time, organizations have to get such input to survive.
  5. Leadership. Even junior enlisted people have leadership ability. Especially if they were in a community like aviation or submarines. On an aircraft carrier, an 18-year-old plane captain decides whether a $50 million airplane leaves the deck. It doesn't matter that the pilot outranks him.

These qualities and soft skills enhance technical proficiency and experience. Don't rely on a resume. Often service members struggle to capture their skills and experience on paper. Ferret out their qualifications using these lists.

You may choose not to use the military personnel structure to find the hard skills you need. Even so, knowing the benefits military people bring to an employer can help you find the ones that best fit into your organization. In doing so, you can substantially improve the quality of your hires.

How have you helped veterans transition?

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