Sales Platoon: Season 1: Episode 5: Mastering the Transition with Retired General Scott Brower

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Retired General Scott Scott Brower is a seasoned veteran with over 20 years of experience. As a leader who has excelled in both military and civilian realms, General Scott Brower shares invaluable insights into the art of transitioning, drawing from his journey and lessons learned.

Join John Renken and General Scott Brower as they explore the intricacies of transition, leadership, and finding purpose in life’s next chapter. Whether you’re a veteran navigating post-military life or an individual embarking on a new journey, this episode offers profound insights and actionable strategies for mastering the transition with resilience and purpose.

Highlights:

{01:47} Finding Purpose in Special Forces

{04:13} Navigating Cross-Pollination

{08:30} The Essence of Leadership

{10:35} Challenges of Transition

{25:00} Lessons Learned

{35:00} Your Family Transitions

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Scott Brower Bio

Brigadier General (Retired) Scott E. Brower was born October 7, 1966, in Passaic, New Jersey. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1989 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery.

General Brower served the remainder of his military career in the Army Special Forces community following his initial assignment. He commanded at the detachment, company, battalion, and group levels, with operational commands culminating with country-wide responsibility for special operations across Iraq in 2010-2011.

 

His combat service includes Desert Storm, the initial invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, with three additional tours to Iraq, one to Afghanistan, and another deployment to Islamabad, Pakistan.

In General Brower’s final assignment at Fort Campbell, KY, which culminated in 12 years of service at this installation, he served as the acting senior commander for the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell.

Following retirement from the US Army, General Brower served as the Military Advisor in Residence at Austin Peay State University, helping to serve over 2,800 Military Affiliated Students. Starting in March 2020, he served as the Chief of Staff for Governor Lee’s Unified Command Group, responsible for coordinating all state-level efforts tied to the COVID-19 pandemic response across Tennessee.

General Brower now serves as the Director of the Bass Military Scholars Program at Vanderbilt University, which provides scholarships to honorably discharged military service members seeking advanced degrees in Law, Nursing, Medicine, Business, and Education with the charter for the scholars to connect to the Vanderbilt community and share the values and principles learned in service to our Nation.

 

Links:

https://fortcampbell.com

https://www.mysalesplatoon.com 



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John

Welcome to the Sales Platoon podcast, where strategy meets storytelling, and we’re right at the crossroads of the battlefield and the business front. I’m your host, John Renken. I’m bringing you the tactics, triumphs, and truths from the trenches of sales and business. And listen, guys, today in our episode, we have one of the best leaders I’ve ever met. 

He’s been my good personal friend and student for over 20 years. He is retired General Scott Brower, He’s a veteran that has succeeded in everything that he’s done. He has a ton of just great information for us today. 

So, let’s gear up. Let’s move into this conversation and see what we have for us today. Man, thanks so much for joining us, Sir.

Scott

Hey, John, great. I’m just glad, glad to be here with you. I am looking forward to it.

John

I love having you talk to us between candidates because you have such an interesting career path, going from being in the army and then going into special forces and then going back to the regular Army and then going through the same struggle many people have transitioning go through even though you set out to say I won’t be one of those numbers.

So, I would like to start with what drew you to special forces.

Scott

Yeah. So. I’ll tell you, it’s me. I grew up playing sports, right? So, I played team sports, you know, all through my childhood, basketball, baseball, and football, and I just always enjoyed being part of a team, right? And so, the army is a team itself, right? But it’s a very, very large organization. What I found was that I like being part of tight, small-knit organizations, rights, and special forces communities, which are just that: they operate in 12-man teams. It’s very small, it’s very tight-knit, and that was just very attractive to me. 

So, when I was exposed to it and learned a little bit about it, I said that’s something that I’m. It is in, and that’s eventually what led me.

John

To pursue it now, you graduated from West Point. When did you get introduced to the idea of special forces? Cause I don’t think that happens that much at West Point. When I was up there teaching, I didn’t see that.

Scott

Yeah, it is. It doesn’t happen a lot, right? But the seed was planted there because you must learn a foreign language as a cadet. I took German, and my German instructor was a tenth special forces group officer, Tim Kineman. Right. And so that’s where I got exposed to it. The great thing was.

Well, I learned German from him. I learned so much more about our military. Right. And that’s what really stood out, and just I’m like, I want to be like that guy, right? We all. We all find those people in our lives, right? 

I want to be like that man or that woman, but he is just right. What? Everything I saw about him, how he did things, was all based on his time and special forces. Right, so that’s where the. The seed was planted. And then, as a Lieutenant, I was stationed in Germany. As an air defense artillery officer and a Lieutenant, I would just get glimpses and see some special forces folks around. 

And I got to talk to him, which led me right. And as a platoon leader, right, small, tight-knit… as an officer, you know that’s as small as it will get for you. And I enjoyed that component of it. The army, leadership, teamwork, camaraderie there, and special forces community allowed me to stay part of that small, tightened organization. That’s what led me to pursue it.

John

And you started in the 10th group, right and then.

Scott

No, I started. I started in the 3rd Special Forces through the corporate. Yeah, yeah.

John

Oh third. OK, I knew when I first met you that would have been what I thought. Just pre-911, right?

Scott

2001 year, and summer 2001, yeah.

John

Yep. And I remember you mentioned that you had come from another group. I thought it was the 10th, but I knew you had got promoted and then moved to the 5th group, right?

Scott

That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Unusually, the officers will start in a group and leave and come back and leave and come back. But there was a policy of cross-pollination. Right. The commanding general at the time said I want at least one officer coming out of commanding General Staff College right that kind of mid-grade education program where you go to Fort Leavenworth, KS for ten months. I want at least one of the officers coming out to go to a different special forces group because his whole point was, hey, let’s learn from each other, right? Good things are happening all over the place. 

So, let’s cross-pollinate those good ideas, right? Culture and language are all very important, so most folks stay in the same place. But I was the cross-pollinator. I was the one guy who came from a different group and then had to fit in and adapt to the culture in that new organization, learn it, and become part of it. I couldn’t expect them to become how we did things in the old unit, right? I had to adapt to that.

John

Yeah. And so, I remember you’re one of my favorite stories—you and, sorry, Major Mario. Bill got into a brawl in the field as we started the combative program at Fifth Group. And I tell people about it all the time. Let me tell you about this Guy. 

And then just watching you through your career. It’s so funny, too, because you’re so humble. Like you would always talk about. You had no clue what was next. And I always looked at you as an outsider going. How’s this guy? Not going to be the next. Commander, and that was always my experience with you. And I have that combined with you; you were also the guy who brawled.

Scott

Well, you know it, it goes back to the room where we met, right? You talk about. Oh. You see this in somebody. You go into the combative room at Fifth Special Forces Group, and I don’t care how awesome you think you are. There was always somebody that was just a little bit more awesome. Right. 

So, there’s the opportunity to eat some humble pie daily in that room. And I think, you know, it was also part of the culture of that organization, right? It’s very blue-collar; let’s roll our sleeves and do the work. Because I came from another group and came to the 5th group, nobody in that organization cared as long as I was willing to grab my ore and start rowing as hard as everybody else, right? 

They were happy to have me if I would put the work in. If you weren’t going to right then, then that’s where the issues came about, right? So, they were happy to accept you in there. And so, you know, I think that.

John

Very inclusive, very inclusive.

Scott

It’s awesome. Yeah, it’s very inclusive. But it is a good opportunity to be humble, too.

John

Yeah, it’s funny that you bring that up because I have a younger guy I’m working with now. He just retired from Fifth Group and was a transfer from what I believe was Seventh Group. He transferred because his son developed a pretty serious illness, and there was no medical facility within. I think it was like 3 or 4 hours. 

So, one of their upper leaders was really good friends with Golden and called him up and said I have this guy, good guy. But we can’t medically help his son. And they transferred him up here, and his story about coming into Fifth Group is so it’s so good because that’s the culture that you and I know, which is like, hey, we’ll take you, do your job, and it will be as if you’ve been here the whole time.

Scott

Yeah. No, that’s true, right? And what a great community we live in here in Middle Tennessee, where literally this morning, I was just down at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre giving a talk. And there’s world-class medical care for you. Right. 

So, we have that for our families there. And one of the messages this morning, right, was take care of your people, and what you just described there was, right? We had a dad trying to take care of his son. Right. And get him into the best environment he could be. And then here’s the organization that’s showing us. Hey, we’ll help you do that. Right. We’re going to invest in you. And we’re going to make sure your family is taken care of. That’s a big part of it. Right. You know, to take care of the whole family unit because.

John

I thought I was not just you; all the commanders had done this when I was there.

Scott

Not everything’s on the water.

John

American, but I watch you guys care for people who got their legs blown off and do the right thing by them. Please keep them in the unit because they are still service-oriented. I watched it with you and Barb and how we cared for her and her family. 

His name is escaping me …  I remember Marcus. 

His wife ended up with cancer in the way that we took care of him and his family. I used to tell everybody that if you’re not in this unit, you’re making a mistake because I watched it as an outsider and saw how you guys cared for everybody. And again, it wasn’t just you; it was Adam’s suit. It was Jay Powers. I only got to watch Commander after Commander operates that way. Yeah. 

So I tell everybody the best leadership I’ve ever seen.

Scott

It becomes part of the culture, right it, and it works both ways, though, right when you’re willing to invest in your people in that manner, it’s amazing what they’re willing to do. I mean, I can remember as a fifth group commander, we had a soldier that was, that was blown up. He was a military working dog handler. His service animal was killed in the explosion, which saved the soldiers. Life, right? But his blast injuries saved right his vital. But he had he had, you know, lower limb extremity damage. And he had micro shards of steel in his eyes. 

I went to check on him and make sure he was doing okay, and he tolerated me talking to him because when I saw him, he was over in the physical therapy office. And he’s like, hey, Sir, thanks for checking on me and everything. But my team was deployed in seven months, and my doctors told me. If I do everything I’m supposed to, I can be deployable again in six months, and you’re in my way right now, right? Because I wanted to play with my guys, and I wanted to be there with my teammates. 

And so, what a strong sense of culture and belonging, right? Why would you not try to care for their family and invest in them when you have people like that? Right, because they’re doing just these awesome things on behalf of the organization, right?

John

It was funny because he was coming down to the combative’ room. And you know Ray and I were like, hey, like, let’s take this a little slow because we, you know, we must protect them as well. They’re he’s like, I’m here deal with it, you know.

Scott

Let’s go. Yeah.

John

He’s a great guy, man. Great guy. We just got to see that over and over. Over and you know, it’s so interesting because you, I can tell you the impact that you guys made on me as a civilian when I evaluated where I was going next after COVID, I was like, I don’t think I can go anywhere else because you guys run me, you know. After all, that culture was just so amazing. And I see a lot with the fifth group guys that they get lost in transition. How was that for you as you transitioned out?

Scott

It can be challenging to recognize your heart as part of this incredibly tight-knit organization; it’s difficult to explain to people, right? And knowing that only 7% of Americans have served in our military doesn’t make us better than anybody else. It just means that was our path in our journey. Right. But 93% of Americans don’t have a good reference. 

So, what they get in the news is what they get in the media, right? They get bombarded with 22 veteran suicides a day. PTSD and TBI are all real things. And they do impact a part of our population. But it’s generally a small apart, right? We need to take care of them. We owe it to them to take care of them. But the rest of the folks right are. Were generally, you know, productive serving Americans, and even that population could be productive as well, right? 

When you’re part of something that tight, finding that on the outside, right in the civilian sector and in a different shop, can be very difficult, right? 

So, when I talk to our guys, I always, you know, hey, guess what, like that sense of connectedness, maybe it doesn’t happen in your job, right? Maybe it’s you who becomes a combative instructor. Maybe you’re a Little League coach. Maybe you’re a Sunday school teacher, but you must find something in your life that allows you to continue serving others, right? I think it’s paramount for that veteran population. They were very used to doing it right.

 So, the program I run at Vanderbilt University right now is the Bass Military Scholars program. It’s a program for veterans who are transitioning, right? They’re working on advanced degrees. But they have to raise, so we give them some money. We give them a supportive network; we help them. What they have to do is share their military experience back with the Vanderbilt community, right? Our undergrads, faculty, and staff went out into the community. What they have to give back is probably the greatest reward that we give to them, as it allows them to help and impact others right there. They find that unbelievably rewarding, right? 

Because when we reward the uniform of our nation every day, you know how you were doing that, right? You were serving our nation. You were caring for your soldiers and your teammates, and you were helping care for their families. Right there. Right. So having that drive to help others, we need, I think that’s very important in the veteran transit. Action space ensures they identify how they will do that in the future.

John

Yeah. So, you know, yesterday I had Eric Horton on who, you know. Well, one of the things we were talking about, and this is not about you because I’ve seen you do this stuff, but one of the things we were talking about was there is not—a culture currently – some of this is because we have competing agendas. We still have to be able to fight two-front wars. Etcetera –  But why is it that you think? I know there’s not as much preparation toward transition, and I’ll frame it this way. Everything we do in the army is backward. Planned time on target commander intent, right? 

Then, we planned backward except for our actual transition. I don’t care if you’re serving two years, 20 years, or 30 years like you did—almost every. There’s no real discussion of what General Scott Brauer will do next, starting from day one, right? Why do you think that is?

Scott

I think there are multiple answers to that, right? I think there are multiple reasons for it. First and foremost, I’ll be, you know, perfectly honest as a commander in the military, I was not concerned about who was transitioning out. Not that I didn’t care about and love them. But at that time, we were deep into a war, and my focus was on preparing our soldiers for that next deployment, right? And that’s where all my attention was, right as fifth group commanders and commanders at other organizations. I failed to assist our soldiers transitioning out. It just wasn’t… It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t that anything.

John

I don’t know because I saw you daily in the combative room and heard you asking questions. To what comes next? How are you taking care of your parents?

Scott

Yeah. OK. All right. So maybe we talked about it; maybe I have a concussion from being in that isn’t too much. But my point is right; it wasn’t the focus of my attention. I said as a leader, right, because you had so many things going on, you have requirements, and you’re trying to meet those requirements now if the soldier transitions in a year, and we’re supposed to have them in a transition program. However, I have requirements that exceed the available workforce. I may pull him back and say, hey John, I need you to do this right now to take care of this requirement, right? 

And so that happens, for that’s the reality of things. I think some individuals are right, especially when we were in conflict and they were in a unit where their soldiers would play well now. Now I’m getting out, but my teammates are doing well. I’m going to make sure I do everything I can to help them before they go out and ignore me. You, right? Or I don’t know what the heck it is. I want to do it when I get out outside, so I ignore it, right? I just put my head in the sand a little bit. I think it’s going to be easy, right? 

And so, I’ve seen all of those. I’m just going to; I’m going to be a defense contractor. I’m going to be a schoolteacher. I’m going to do whatever it is I want to do. Right. I’ll take care of that in a little bit. Right. It’s a little bit more complicated than that, right? And so, you know, we have to put time and attention into it, and unfortunately, it’s one of those things, right? 

I didn’t do it right. I didn’t prepare in the manner I should have. Looking back now, I would do it differently if I could do it again. And as I talked to people, though, right? And I’ll talk to those folks that are still inside. Had those organizations been like, Hey John, have you given any thought? I’ll get to it. Right. Like there’s, there’s realization.

John

The same as you are.

Scott

But now, at least, we’re implementing programs to assist with that. To try it right, we’re engaging in the conversation now, which is better than what we did before, right? 

So, it can, you know, we can do it, but there will be some—hurdles, right, and some changes right there.

John

Well, we have to be able to fight the A2 front war. We have to be able to conduct the. And in the, at least in the special force’s community, we again, from an outsider’s perspective, don’t have the bodies to afford a really good transition because we’re such a small, tight unit right – to a degree.

Scott

No, I think you’re small, right? And, you know the deal, I don’t care where it is, right? It could be working at Walmart or Burger King. Suppose you’re good at your job. Guess what happens, right? You’re rewarded with more work and more responsibility, right? So let’s give you some more.

One more to do so.

John

Yeah, yeah.

Scott

Of course, he’s doing a great job. Hey, maybe they can do this, too, right? And the people in the community, right? I am somewhat driven, and so I can take it. I can take it on, right? I can do that. I can do a little bit more. I can do a little bit more.

There is a point right where we kind of have to step in and say, hey, you’ve done enough, and now I’m directing you to do this, and that’s where I think the transition programs are a step in the right direction, right to try to help take care of them and help them focus on that.

John

Just a little.

Scott

OK.

John

It was so interesting to me as an outsider because I looked at it again. My time at Fifth Group is working as basically like with NFL teams, right? So, if you think about it, 1% of those guys in high school make it to college ball and 1% to NFL ball. It’s very similar to what we had at Fifth Group. What percentage of people in the army make it to an SF? Like less than one a 10th of a percent. So, very high echelon caliber of people. That is because they stay there for, like you said, you know, you’re there for the rest of your career.

So, you’re talking at least 10 to 20 years. And then when they got out, I would listen to the guys just being the guy on the mat with them, talking about. I don’t, I don’t know what’s next, like their whole identity. We both know somebody who’s a great person who struggled with that process, so they went on killing bad guys well into their late 50s because they didn’t know who else they were. 

You know, so it was always interesting to me listening to their transition journey. I remember you because you always talked about it in our cohort. You know, the statistics are you will switch jobs three to five times over the first couple of years. And you’re like, by God, that’s not going to be me. Tell me a little bit about—that journey.

Scott

Yeah. So, you know, at the general officer transition, of course, they tell you, you know, to find that next kind of calling. In life, it’ll. The average is three to five years, then two to three jobs. And I’m like, no, I got it … I’m smarter than that. I’m going to get it. I have to figure it out. Right. And I’ve been out for five years now, and I’m on my third job, right? 

And so, it’s I was. I’m now the poster child for that. Right, and whose fault is that? Right. And not that somebody to blame for it, right? But why did that happen? Maybe a better way to phrase it is that it was made right, like I didn’t sit down and go. What is it you want to do next? Right

John

What are you doing?

Scott

A lot of people will ask you what you want. To do next right I’ve. Heard of a question asked that I think it’s much more. And is what? What are you passionate about? 

John

Yes. 

And I think that’s such. It’s such a significant, you know, it’s a very important distinction and difference, right? There. Right. What? What excites you, and what kind of motivates you, right? It returns to helping others and having something you’re excited about, right? 

When we can find that, what does everyone say, right you? You love what you’re doing. You’ll never. You’ll never go to work, you know, for a day in your life, right? You’re just you. You just get to do what you love doing right there. And so you know, what is that thing? And for years, for many of us, it was being. Soldier. But now that’s over. And. And we’re going to do something else. Right. So what? What are you passionate about? What are you excited about? Right. And if that’s if that’s making as much money as possible. 

So I can put food on the table for my family. Hey, great. There’s nothing wrong with that. Right? But if it’s, hey, you know what? I want to be a grade school teacher because I love working with young kids and want to see them grow and develop. And I’m not going to make as much money doing that. Hey, don’t. Don’t be a schoolteacher, right? Do that, right? 

But invest the time to figure out what gets you excited, right? So, I worked at Austin Peay State University for some time. As the pandemic hits, I’m asked to go and run the state of Tennessee’s COVID response. I worked with the governor and his team, and now I’m at Vanderbilt University running a scholarship program. Right. 

So, there are three distinct jobs, two within the education arena. But I learned that I love helping veterans find their next path. And I also love, enjoy, and find rewards. And helping build the connections between that civilian workforce community, the 93% of Americans that haven’t, Sir, to help them understand what the heck is available to them. Right. So, I’ve kind of found that calling at this point.

John

Well, I would say. You probably just weren’t watching because you did that the entire time. I’ve known you. I watched you do it at Fifth Group. You were bringing in people from the outside. You’ve always been to me, at least as an outsider. The spokesman to bring communities together. I watched you do it for 20 years.

Scott

Yeah. Yeah, I appreciate that.

John

And you always, I get like again Barb, I listen. I told somebody this, they asked me, and you and I have the reason, so it makes me a little emotional. But somebody asked me why Fifth Group is so important to you. You haven’t been there for four years. I go. It’s the best organization I’ve ever been a part of. 

They go well; what’s one story? I said my grandfather had died. I took off from work, and General Scott Brauer sent flowers to my grandfather’s funeral. That’s who you are. I’ve watched that for 20 years. Not just there, but you. You know, I remember the ash chewing you gave me because I was at work after having throat surgery. 

And you’re like, what are you doing here? And I’m like, I’m the contractor. I’m the only guy. And you’re like, get your *** home, you know? So, I’ve watched you be that guy, you know, for years. So, I love that you’re doing that now. Because to me, looking from the outside, that’s just who your voice is.

Scott

I appreciate it, right? But you but you learn from others, right? I and my father passed away, and I want to, you know, his service. There’s a whole bunch of flowers from inside the organization. Right. And the units and the leaders. Right. 

So, I’d like to think some of the things I do are because I learned from being surrounded by really, really quality people and willing to. To learn from them, right? Learning is a two-way St. You know, I do leadership development for the general football program, our women’s lacrosse team, and other areas, right? And when I’m dealing with college age, Kids that are smart and everything, but they’re very young, right? In comparison, I got a lot more life experience. I’ve made a lot more leadership mistakes than they have ever thought about making. 

But every day, I go into a classroom with them. I walk out having learned something right from that, so I think if you take that mindset, there are many opportunities, and that applies to the transition thing, too, right? Like there’s nobody, right? As a veteran, nobody owes me a thing. I was privileged and honored to serve. Right. And that was my choice. And I was able to do that. And that’s reward enough. There’s nobody that owes me a blessed thing for doing that. Right. 

So, if I’m going to be part of an organization, it should be because. I can help make it better, right? And so, we just have to figure out how to make that adjustment, that change, join that new team right there. And so, we still have to be willing to learn and listen and kind of grow, right? It’s not over.

John

So, you mentioned earlier that, in hindsight, you made several mistakes in your transition. So, let me paint the picture: you’re getting the year 18 of your military service; you’ve decided that 20, right? Could you go back and redo it? All of that process, what would you tell the guy that’s at 18 years, 19/20 years? What would you tell him to do differently?

Scott

Right there. There’s life after the military, right? And so, I don’t. I don’t care if you’ve been in for three years or 30 years. There’s still long. There’s still life right in the workforce. Right. So, there’s something else you’re not. You’re not going golfing the entire time, right? You may do it more, but you’re not. Do it all the time. 

So, what is it you want to do? Do right, and so our focus is always like that. Where we talked before, right, hey, my teammates are deploying. I feel guilty. Right? I want to make sure they’re comfortable. I don’t know what I want to do yet. And we ignore it. Right. 

So, the whole point, though, is right: single marriage doesn’t matter. Right. But like you, whether you take care of yourself, you take care. Family. Hey, make sure you’re doing the work and thinking through how you’ll care for yourself and them in the future. Right. So, I wish I had spent a little more time deliberating. What is it I want to do, right? Because there were plenty of people that wanted to help me. But I didn’t allow them to because I couldn’t tell them what I wanted to do. 

So how do they? How do they help me if I don’t? What do you want to do, Scott? I don’t know. Well, then, I can’t help you, right? If I want to go into sales, if I want to go into education, you want to go into entertainment? OK, great. Now, we’ve narrowed it down. 

And as I talk to people, the more specific we can be, the easier it is to receive assistance and help. And I do believe there are some, you know, wonderful transition programs out there, right? They do just this: they get us to sit down and think through the problem and the opportunity. Right, this isn’t a problem. I don’t know what I’m going to do. No, I’m not. I don’t know what the next opportunity is. Right.

 So, let’s think about what is next. Opportunity is right there. And I think that’s one of the challenges for veterans where right there’s a reputation that exists for veteran, you know that we job hop. When we get out, right? So, there’s sometimes hesitancy from a company to hire a veteran because I don’t want to be the first one because six months later, they’re going to be gone, right? 

John

Right.

Scott

That happens because we haven’t done our homework, you know what? Sales is interesting, but I’m not a good salesman, right? Or I am a good communicator. Or maybe. That can be like. So, we need to do our homework. Mark, we need to assess what’s out there, right, so that we can try to get lined up first, right? 

So, when you act, what would I have done differently? I would have invested the time to think through it and not do that alone. Networking, as are the right resumes, is the most critical thing out there. I think it is largely a thing of the past, right? It’s you know. Like I said, you want to get to the point where a resume is, oh, hey, please drop your resume off at HR. But we’ve already had the discussions, right? 

So, veterans have to be able to stand up in front of folks and explain to them what they’ve done in their military career, what they’re interested in doing, and how they can bring value to their organization. Does the bigger population have a ton of things to offer, right? I don’t care what anybody says, right? It’s got probably the best leadership program in the world, right? Very structured. And it is very, you know, morphs over time. It’s adjusted. But how many years did I go to school for years in the military to become a better leader?

John

Alright, for sure.

Scott

Right. And I see how that can impact almost every organization I’ve been exposed to since I’ve been out.

John

Yeah. So, you bring up the networking, and you know we discussed this in the pre-call, and I think this is super important. You know you graduated from West Point, so you’re a super smart guy, but I think West Point does better than I’ve seen just about anybody else in the military. Maybe the fifth group, like the SF community, doesn’t do equally. But you hear about it from West Point: you establish a referral network. An identity that there’s almost this after-service West Point alums like I can get anywhere through my West Point alums. Like, talk to me about that. And is that intentional, or something that just kind of organically happened? Tell me about that.

Scott

Yeah, I think it’s very intentional, right? And so, I’ll use the analogy of the American Legion or the VFW, right? West Point has an association of graduates. And as you go around the country, they’ll be, you know, the West Point Association of Graduates, Middle Tennessee or North Jersey or wherever it is. You can find that group that meets periodically, right? 

And so, the commonality is you all went to the same school, and then you served in the same company, right? It happened to be the United States Army for some time, whether three years or thirty. But there’s a commonality right there. Right. 

So, the one thing, you know, that I’ve learned. I don’t believe in absolutes, you know, always and never. This is as close to always as you get. Veterans will always help veterans, right? Like they’re not going to say no. They’re just not going. Hey, I may be unable to help you right now, John. I can’t take the call, but can I get with you tomorrow? Right there. I find that to be as close to an absolute as I can now. 

And I think when you know the again, the smaller you go, right, you have some commonality, you want the same school, it’s a pretty small school. You went through, you know, the pain of being at West Point and the winters on the Hudson and all that stuff. 

So, there’s that, that bond, right? So that connection turns into a network, right? So, hey, I can connect to that network here in Middle Tennessee. Great. And now maybe they can start opening some doors for you. Like, but right, use the American Legion. Use the VFW. Use the Special Forces association. Right. 

You can get connected to it. And I think that’s very, very important. We know statistically that veterans who are in distress or have problems, more often than not, are not connected to some kind of veteran organization, right? They kind of go on their own, and hey, you want to get away from the army. The Navy Air Force. Hey, that’s fine. Do your thing, right, but build a connection, right? Either with your friends, you know that you enjoyed in the service, or through a veteran service organization, or just know where they are. If you do need it right, stay. Stay connected for all kinds of reasons. Right. 

So, networking for employment and finding out, you know, just about your community. And how you can so it’s not, I don’t care. I got a job. But what volunteer opportunities are there out here in the community? Right. 

When Clarksville just got hit, Clarksville, TN, got hit with these horrible tornadoes. Right. And we lose a couple hundred homes. 7-8 hundred homes stand. Imagine the outpouring of support in the community was incredible, right? But when you look. At the military members. Right. I mean, our county mayor was on, I think, Good Morning American and told me, look, we’re a military community. 

Please help some of these other outlying communities. We got all the help we need because we got all these military members and veterans here and. And they’re just crushing this thing right there. We’re going to be OK, right? Be connected, right? Being connected is so critically important for a lot of reasons. Employment just, you know, having a bond right, having that brotherhood, that sisterhood, you want to be part of something like that.

John

Well, and I think that outside of the networking for professional purposes, right, I personally, and I don’t know if there’s data to support this, I think. The 22 days are for people who aren’t connected and can’t find a way to stay connected. And I think it’s so important that we find. And our tribe outside the military to help the US deal with those struggles.

Scott

It is it’s statistically proven right through the VA. I sit on the board of two mental health nonprofits focused on the veteran population. We do know that in two out of three veteran suicides, that individual has no connection to any veteran-type organization, such as the American Legion. Team Red, white, and Blue is the asset association. It doesn’t. It doesn’t matter right there. They’ve kind of isolated right themselves. And that’s where we get into just checking on each other, right? 

And I don’t, I don’t care where you work or if you’ve been in the military or not, right? But checking on your friends just, you know, sometimes we all have a bad day, and it is helpful to know the deal. Hey John, I was just thinking about whether I should call you. No, no reason. I just had that from one of my West Point classmates, right? A dear friend of mine knew that we had cold weather in Tennessee and didn’t deal well with that, Right? 

He’s from upstate New York. He’s like, hey, so you guys are having cold weather. You just want to call us. Make sure you’re doing OK. Doing alright like that’s it, right like. You’re The fun meter just goes up a few points right when you, as my buddy, called on me and checked on me. Right? Like somebody out there cares about me, right? Is it OK to do that?

John

Every once in a while, I tell every class now. Hey, look, I’m spending the next 12 weeks with you. I’m here for you. You have my cell phone. Don’t any of you ever isolate to the point that you do this? Cause I’ll track you down and find you afterward. Because I want them to know that I’m there. Period. 

And again at Fifth Group. I don’t know what our statistics were. But I’d like to think it was less because I watched it. Andy Marshall is one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever seen. And how he handled his teams in the early part of the 9/11 era and how they did their teen parties and intertwined their families, you know, I got to watch all that as an outsider, and I could go. This is what true community and leadership look like.

Scott

Yeah, yeah. You make me think about that because when you talk about the family, right? And I just talked again this morning. You talk, I talk about all the time, right? Our family serves. And my wife didn’t get paid by the army. But, you know, she had to go into homes of casualties. And she was always, you know, pulling the spouses together and doing things right to form community as whether we deployed on a training exercise or, you know, whatever we were doing or in combat. Right. Same thing for our children. Right. 

You know, our children. Hey, Dad is gone again, right? He’s not at the ball game. He’s not at the dance recital. He’s not at my school event, and then they see what’s going on in the news, right? 

So, it impacts all of them; the same applies to transition. Right. I’m coming out of military service, but my wife, it’s also a transition for her. Right? So that family unit transitions. Right. And it’s worth recognizing that, right, that, you know. She used to get a break for me every couple of months because I would be deployed right now. I’m here all the time. Right. So, did her expectations change like now, maybe after 30 years?

John

How is your wife?

Scott

That’s going to start helping around the house. Or right like that, it’s worth it. I’m sitting down again and thinking through it right. And that’s not to, that’s not marriage counseling, right, but it’s just, hey, let’s communicate and make sure we’re clear on, you know, hey, our lives are changing right here.

John

And I don’t; I don’t think enough people understand that portion of it or that the existing transition programs also exist for your house. Well, right. So, when you look at the cool program, your spouse can take advantage of that. When you look at Skill Bridge, your spouse, like hiring our heroes, a great organization pays your spouse. I think it’s like I don’t remember. I think it’s 15 or 18 bucks an hour to do the skill bridge to learn a new career. 

So, when you transition, finances aren’t necessarily the biggest concern. Right. 

So, there’s some, like, again, I think we’re a little bit slow to the dance on this one, but I think we are doing a really good job at supporting the spouse as much as we’re supporting the soldier transitioning.

Scott

Yeah, I think so. And again, I think it just goes to communication, right, and engaging the business community, talking to them all because, you know, we all just, you know, went through the COVID pandemic. You know, if we learned if there’s something good that came out of that nightmare, it was that we figured out how to work remotely pretty well, right? And so now, I was in the military for 29 years. We lived in 18 houses—we had PCs. I don’t know how many times, right? 

So, my wife, if She chose to Work, could have jobs. No problem. Right everywhere we went, she could have jobs. But it was very difficult for her to have a car. Right connected into the same organization. Well, guess what? It just changed right now with the ability to work remotely. We moved from Fort Campbell to Fort Liberty in North Carolina. And no problem. She doesn’t even have to leave employment, right? Just take a few days off to move and set up the house. And here we go. 

So, when we engage with companies, we talk about this. Even the talent of our available military spouses thinks about what satisfaction they could get. Think about the financial relief. If that family can think about the stress reduction that creates when finances aren’t a problem, that we’re arguing about all the time, right? 

And now, wow, we’ve just changed things because we’ve recognized, you know, the advantage of engaging this incredibly talented military spouse population as well. Right. There are so many opportunities out there that we just got to. We have to talk about it.

John

So many fields are now fully remote, and there’s still, like, I watched this now because of the skill bridge program. But. You know, there’s still a chicken thing happening between employers and employees. Employees are going. I’ve tasted remote. I’m not coming back to the office, and employers are going. I wouldn’t say I liked losing control. You’re coming back to the office, you know. But there are certain industries, such as sales and accounting. I’ve seen a lot of accounting. Departments that have gone fully remote because you have to sit in the office to run numbers on Excel or QuickBooks or whatever they do, right? 

And so I think that that that has been great. If you’re in the right career, that’s been a great benefit for, I think, the military community because it’s not like you came out of the army, me and the millionaire.

 So, traditionally speaking, even with the officers, you don’t make the money you would have if you had taken that and become a CEO.

Scott

Right.

John

You know, but you did the role of a CEO.

Scott

Yeah, some. Yeah, it’s interesting. It is a challenging dynamic, especially that remote piece, right? Like, I mean, hey, for some professions, it works for others, maybe not. For some people, it can work, and for others, it is not right. Some people I want to super. I want to see them. I need to. Right, 

because they don’t have the maturity. Or the knowledge may be right to handle it remotely where you have more interactions, and some people may not like it, right? When I worked for the state during the pandemic, we were in one of the government office buildings and some of the only people. Normally, there were 2800 people in the building, and maybe 200 there, right? 

So, we got to the floor to ourselves. And I would walk by cubicles that had, you know, the calendar from March of 2020. Now it’s April of 2021, and I’m like. I want some. Of that, I want to be able to work from home in my pajamas for, you know, a year and then, and then when I started at Vanderbilt, we were still remote, and I was home for about a week. 

And I’m like, OK, I’ve had it with this. Like, this is not my gate. I don’t want any part of this. Right. Because I thrive on a little bit of human interaction and connection where, you know, I I’ve worked with plenty of people are like, you know what put me in the room on my own, and I’m not bothered by other people like. I’m good. I will crank out work for you, right? So, I think it’s finding that right. Environment, because the remote’s not for everybody for sure.

John

Not for everybody, that’s for sure. You know, in our skill bridge, we’re talking through. So, I first set them up to say, hey, remote is becoming the Unicorn. So, if you can land it, that’s great, but you shouldn’t ride on that expectation because that is what the culture has.

Scott

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, yeah.

John

Have I shifted back to the office or not remote or maybe hybrid? So, but then there’s the personality side. Maybe you are the type of person who can be completely isolated, and that fills your box of joy. 

I’m like you. I mean, I get it through this. I’m connected in many different areas, but I hate being the lone wolf alone. Like. No, no, no, no. It’s not good, you know.

Scott

Yeah, yeah, I’m with you. Absolutely.

John

Just as we kind of wrap up here, you’re involved in so many things, and I’ve watched you, like I said, over the years, you know, you’re in nonprofits, you’re in leadership roles. How would somebody reach out to you? Is there anything you’d like to talk about that they could help support in this endeavor to transition, and that’s all you’re doing there?

Scott

How many? How much time do we have John to talk about? 

John

You can, yeah. Take as much as you need.

Scott

No, I’m. I’m just joking. Yeah. 

So I do support multiple non. It’s a support work with several mental health nonprofits that I talked about focused on the veteran population, the Cohen Veterans Network here in Clarksville, and Centerstone Military Services, a national organization. And then I do love supporting our local communities here, right? 

So, I still live in Clarksville. Jen and our two. Kids from New Jersey. But we’re stationed at Fort Campbell for 13 years. We were raising our children, and I was deployed from, you know, Fort Campbell and to combat six times from your left. My family is here. Every time this community gave so much to my family, you know, I want to be able to give back and do it locally. Right, you know, feel special to me. 

So, you know, the one that is special to me is the Fort Campbell Historical Foundation. We’re getting approval to build a new museum to honor the service and sacrifice of all the combat units on Fort Campbell: the 101st Airborne Division, Fifth Special Forces Group, and the 160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment. It’s going to be. Once constructed, it will be the largest military museum between Chicago and New Orleans in the middle of our country. It will have a significant local economic impact here in Clarksville; we plan on having education programs as part of this effort. We’ve made that commitment to the state of Tennessee and the state of Kentucky. 

That will support K through 12 education programs, civics leadership, and history. It will support college-level education through research and other efforts right there in the history arena. We have a national-level speaker series that will be part of it, where we partner with different universities to bring in national-level Speakers. We will have General Jack Keane. I’m a former vice chief of staff of the Army, still very heavily involved in National Defence. He’ll be in next month to speak

 so that one’s special to me. Right. Because here, here we are again, with only 7% of us having served in the military. It’s an opportunity to share what that service means and what it looks like, right? We’re all about educating and inspiring, right, that next generation.

And so, it will be a wonderful facility that our school kids can go to that adults can help with their looks. I’m sorry.

John

You’ve been working on that project for four years, right? Have you been working on that project for four years?

Scott

I’ve been working on it since I got out of the projects, and it has been in place for a long time. There’s been some significant delays, right? But we have the formal request to donate this museum to the United States Army. That approval process is working towards the Secretary of the Army right now. We expect to break. I found it this year, right? 

So we’re expecting by May that we’re going to have shovels, you know, moving dirt and starting to steel up, and it’s going to be a phenomenal facility where there’s a 7,000-square-foot museum on Fort Campbell right now. This will have over 41,000 square feet of display space to tell those stories. 

And it’s going to be a great meeting spot, right? So, when we talk about transition, what better place to have a job fair at this museum where you can see the service members and see what they did? And help inspire and share information with them.

John

Fort Campbell had such a story. Tradition. I mean, just some of the stuff, a band of brothers, all that stuff, took place here. And so that would be awesome. What do you think is going to be the completion date for that?

Scott

It’s incredible, yeah.

John

We break ground 

Scott

It’s it. It’s about a 13-month build and then three months to move into it, right? So, if we break ground in May or so.

So, we’re in 24, so in summer 2025, it’ll be open for folks to get in there. We have a couple more phases right where we’ll get classrooms and all in there. 

So, there’s a little more work to do after that, but hopefully, it’ll be open. Public by the fall of 2025.

John

Yeah, that would be great. Yeah. I mean, I’m because I’ve known you. I’ve heard about you and the museum for four years now. So, I was wondering because it hadn’t come up yet.

Scott

It’s going to be awesome.

John

He hasn’t been to the museums.

Scott

Now it’s coming. We have a great team that’s in place. It’s all about these, these units, and telling the stories of American sons and daughters. Right. It’s not about the equipment. Right, it’s that’s the vehicle.

But this is all about American soldiers, right? That’s what the museum is about. And what better way to help educate people about, hey, this is what they can do? Then, by telling those stories right about these wonderful, wonderful, dedicated, you know, service members and their families, right? 

So, it’s going to be A phenomenal facility.

John

If somebody wants to give through the project, then the museum, where do they go to do that?

Scott

Yeah, just you. You can Google the Fort Campbell Historical Foundation. There are mechanisms to deal with that right there. Do you want to reach out to me on LinkedIn? You know, please do. 

And we’ll connect you to the right folks because there’s room to take more donations. After all, we have a pretty extensive plan that will always grow. Right, because guess what?

There’s always going to be more history. Right that we, hey, we’ve told the story through Desert Storm. Great. Well, now we have Iraqi freedom. Well, now we have Operation Enduring Freedom. And now you know the fight and the amazing things the Fifth Special Forces Group has done inside Syria. That no Americans know about, right? It’s just amazing to see. So, we want to tell the stories of these great Americans and their actions for our nation.

John

Yeah, great. All right. Thank you so much for your time today. I loved it. I love just reconnecting with you anytime I can, anyway. 

And if you guys want to reach out to him, I’ll put his LinkedIn bio inside the show notes. Feel free to connect with him because I watch him serve veterans. Thanks, man.

Scott

Thanks, John. Appreciate it.

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