Episode-969- Warrior Hike, Helping Veterans and What “Coming Home” is Like

Today I have the great honor of interviewing Captain Mark Silvers and Captain Sean Gobin, two combat veterans and the founders of “Warrior Hike”.

Captain Sean Gobin

Captain Sean Gobin

Captain Sean Gobin enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1994 as an infantryman and received his commission upon graduating from the University of Mississippi in 2001.

As an Armor Officer, Sean served as a platoon commander in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and again in 2005.

From 2010 to 2011, Sean served as an Afghan National Security Forces Development Officer in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon completion of Warrior Hike, Sean plans to pursue a Masters Degree in Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

Captain Mark Silvers

Captain Mark Silvers

Captain Mark Silvers enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 and received his commission upon graduating from the University of Virginia in 2007.  While deployed to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, Mark served as a platoon commander.

Captian Silvers deployed again from 2011 to 2012 as the 2d Marine Division Aide-de-Camp.  Following his time in the Marine Corps and the completion of Warrior Hike, Mark will pursue a Masters Degree in Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

Together Mark and Sean founded warrior hike and successfully hiked all 2180 miles of the Appalachian Trail and hosted 38 separate fund raisers at Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts along the trail to raise donations in order to purchase adaptive vehicles for veterans who have suffered multiple amputations during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Resources for Today’s Show…

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11 Responses to Episode-969- Warrior Hike, Helping Veterans and What “Coming Home” is Like

  1. I found this podcast via a Facebook link that was posted on my Facebook. I have met both San and Mark when they were in New Hampshire. They are grate people and my hat is off to them.
    I served 17 years in the Navy. A lot has changed since my time in service. I agree with your comments about assisting our service veterans. One does not have to be in a battle to be a VETERAN, Our service members face dangers 24/7.
    I would like to inform you of a peer group just coming of age, it is called the Vet To Vet program. It is a program were military vets no matter when or where one served can meet and share the problems and conflicts or readjusting from the military mind set back to the civilian mind set. A place where one may meet a fellow vet who has dealt with the same problem or conflict before and will share how they over came it.
    Although not part of the Veterans Affairs Department the VAMC’s recognize and assist in the programs activities.
    As a fellow veteran I salute and thank you for your service both then and now.

  2. Thank You Mark, Sean, Jack and all others who have served.

  3. The Veteran faces many challenges when they leave the service. You find yourself with out that order you had: PT in the morning, your cloths picked out for the day, your tasks planned, etc right down to which side you were on when you walked with someone.

    You also face the issue of finding out that what you learned/did in the military often does little to help you in civilian employment world. Many of the things you did, like driving M1’s or making hasty craters have very little civilian carry over. Other things that hurt you is after 20 years in, getting out at 38 years old and you find that police departments, fire departments, etc won’t even consider you because 1) you are too old, 2) you have no experience – even when it was your MOS for 20 years-, 3) you’re seen as damaged goods – too many military habits that won’t work with the place you’re applying.

    All this is false, but the media and entertainment loves the story line of Vets are all PTSD ticking time bombs. They jumped all over the Sikh shooter, highlighting how he had served in the Army! (14 years earlier)

    What is needed is more groups like this, and people telling their employers that they need more vets working for them. If you’re in HR or a manager, take the time to interview people with military on their employment history even if they don’t meet 100% your needs. You may find that their willingness to work hard and be a quick learner more than makes up for that lack.

    • Modern Survival

      Great stuff Top. I think that what most employers should understand about Vets and why you should hire them is simple.

      When you give a typical employee a task, to them it is a task, they will do their best (in their view) to get it done, but failure is an option. For the civilian it is always an option that something is too hard, too difficult. Doesn’t mean they will fail all the time, just they naturally accept that failure is possible so they will fail at times and simply say, “I tried but I just couldn’t get it done” and they will expect you to understand that. Trust me as an employer and manager this is absolute fact.

      When you give a Vet a task, it is not a task it is a mission. Missions are not something where failure is an option. We were taught the only way a mission is permitted to fail is if you are dead and that isn’t even really an excuse. When you can’t get a mission done via one route you try another, you call for back up, you improvise, you adapt and overcome. With a mission mindset it isn’t that failure never occurs it is simply that it only occurs if every effort has been made first. The Vet will also not expect you to understand he/she will feel they have failed you. You will in fact though know they need more resources, budget, time, etc.

      The above is not true of every veteran and not of every civilian but over the years as both employer and manager I have had over 100 people work under some level of my supervision and it plays out 99% of the time. Sure some Vets are lazy excuse makers we all served with a few and some civilians are more driven then a combat marine but there aren’t to many.

      Also and this is key to me, most civilians will follow in the presence of leadership and vets will share this trait. Military personal know how to take and follow direction. The difference though is when there is no leadership or when leadership fails, the Vet will generally take the leadership role and get something done. Vets tend to become the “leader within a team” even when they are not in charge. Such leaders are often respected and followed more then those with official positions. The value these people bring to the manager or ownership that can win them over is immense.

      Oh and it is also nice to be able to tell someone they Fd up and not to do that again with out them crying or going to HR or feeling emotionally damaged, etc.

  4. Raymond "Shorty" Butler

    S.T.R.A.C., STRAC, Standing Tough and Ready Around the Clock. Only place I ever heard this was in Division.

    It’s been 30 years and I miss it. Not the hurry up and wait, the marching or the food, but the comradeship, travel and yes the jumping. Throughout all these years, I have struggled with coming home but I have found solace in the last few years gardening, volunteering, but I believe most importantly teaching. I isolate, extreme isolate and I believe that teaching gets me back in touch with training my troops. Feeling like I have a mission makes me feel like a million bucks and allows that young trooper inside this old man feel that pride in service again.

    Great episode, thank you.

    Shorty

    • Modern Survival

      @Shorty, when I was in 89-93 strac was a general term overall, a strac solider was sharp, ready to go, high and tight, etc. In Panama US Southcom had their own anacrnym for STRAC, it was something like

      S – Support
      T – Train
      R – Don’t remember
      A – Don’t remember
      C – Don’t remember

      As you can see it didn’t stick, though since it was part of BS fed down to active units by the REMFs (Ill leave it to non military types to look that one up for themselves) up at Command HQ we promply changed it to,

      S – Stupid
      T – Troops
      R – Running
      A – Around in
      C – Circles

      Funny that I remember the second one, but even with that the general term was widely used in the units I worked with on various duty stations and deployments (Airborne, Aviation and Combat Engineers) and regarded as positive and quite a compliment when handed down from superior. Being told, “solider your shit is strac” was about the highest compliment you could get from a senior NCO or an officer.

  5. If you have the time, I’d highly recommend to anyone reading this that they listen to the episode linked at the end of the show notes

    • I was a Marine Corps reservist and got out in 2005 right after a deployment in Iraq. We left the combat zone, spent about 10 days winding down at the Baghdad airport and then a few days in California before going back to the civilian world. It was kind of a difficult transition – I remember going out to Oceanside, CA two weeks or so after being on patrols in Iraq, walking in front of a car in traffic and giving it the Iraqi gesture for “stop”, not even realizing what I was doing.

      You feel like you hit a wall. Suddenly your life seems like it has less of a purpose than it did when you were in and you realize that you just (probably) had the defining moments of your life and everything else will be mundane. One of the most depressing moments of my life was watching my old unit get on buses to leave for deployment and then I went home and mowed my yard. I didn’t REALLY want to go, but you still feel like you’re a part of it all and that you should be there. They did just fine without me, of course.

      I drank a lot and tried to make up for the lack of purpose/excitement/danger with other things. Fortunately I ended up focusing most of that energy on positive things after a couple of years – a lot of us talk about always having to have different hobbies and stimulation to make up for it. The preparedness world has done a lot to introduce me to some new things to pursue.

      Jack – Any chance of getting a veterans’ subforum in the forum?

      • Modern Survival

        @Ryan, I think a Vets forum is a great idea! I sent this comment on to one of our top moderators of the forum.

  6. Jack,

    It seems hiking in the woods is like a spiritual quest, I agree with that completely.

    I was never in the military, but yet I feel I was sort of in way. I was a good athlete and did very well on the football team in 8th grade. I liked football quite a bit, but when I got into high school with a different coach, the drills and such associated with the practices started to seem like not alot of fun. It was mostly alot of drudgery and being yelled at all the time. The coach expected you to be in shape at the beginning of the season and he would work you like a dog. I usually would be injured before the season began and the trainer seemed to think my body structure was different than most people. I found it difficult to jog every day and all that pre season on my own. I was actually the fastest runner on the team, but I hardly got to play very much. I don’t know if the coach didn’t like me or felt I wasn’t with the picture or what not. My impression of the military and boot camp is pretty much just more of the same what I had experienced from being on the football team and I never had the sense that vietnam or any of the recent conflicts where something that I was attached to. That whole football thing ended up being a very bad experience for me even though I used to like football alot before then, I don’t even really like football anymore .. I found some renewed interests in atheleticism with surfing and so on.

    As far as giving up your rights to be in the military. I think ancient warrior societies could have been different. The Sioux Indians never court martial people for not wanting to fight or considered them to have signed away their rights, yet they where a renowned warrior society. In the bible, religion was part of the warfare and not excluded from it and people where not courtmartialled either I don’t think. I also think in gorilla warfare it’s less formalized and structured like that.

    • Modern Survival

      @Surfivor, true warrior code without giving up rights in the nation does exist, it is called the militia. We need to bring it back in not as an underground concept and above the board officially chartered group of regional militias.