Combined Task Force 4-2 conducts combined foot patrol with ANA partners

One mantra that many great leaders held to be true is, “never forget where you came from.” Sometimes that happened…sometimes leaders fell prey to the “Three P’s” of Power, Perks, and Privilege, as honestly described by CSM(R) J. D. Pendry in his outstanding guide for Noncommissioned Officers, the Three Meter Zone. Sometimes we, as leaders, forgot what it was like to be an E-4 making a whopping $1,302.60 a month (my pay rate in 1996). Most often, though, leaders in the military, regardless of branch, always ate last, went to sleep later, got up earlier, and were right there in the middle of the suck with their troops.

This week, LinkedIn got a taste of that kind of leadership. Greg Call, LinkedIn’s Senior Manager for Veterans Programs, put out a course that is designed to help Veterans set up their LinkedIn profile. Professionally produced, flawlessly executed, exactly the type of content needed for a veteran to learn how to be successful at generating a LinkedIn profile. Why? Take a look at the bonus footage, and you’ll see:

For me, I really just wanted to build on the services that the government’s already providing and really give service members something that’ll be value added, that will help them in this transition process.

Greg was provided an amazing opportunity to work at LinkedIn; he successfully navigated the obstacle course. He made it to the top of the Tough One, slogged it through the mud, and checked the box labled “successful transition”…then turned around to help his buddies through. He didn’t forget where he came from. And he didn’t pretend it was easy…he admitted the truth, “During the transition, I lost my professional identity, my support system and many of the skills that made me a good Marine seemed painfully inconsequential.” Like many leaders before him, he was brutally honest with those following him…but also dedicatedly supportive.

On the day after Greg announced the release of LinkedIn for Veterans, the LinkedIn veteran community got another jolt of juice by the announcement that MoH Recipient Florent Groberg has partnered with LinkedIn to serve as Spokesperson for their Veterans Program. He could have had, and probably still does have, a significant number of calls for his time, things to put his name to…instead he chose to help his fellow veterans. His recent post, the 21st Century Wolf Pack, demonstrates the same kind of frank and honest leadership that made your favorite leader your favorite leader: he (or she) gave it to you straight, with no crap, but for your own benefit:

In 2012, my lifelong passion for serving in our armed forces was cut short. Four years later, through the power of networking, a steadfast mindset and the act of seeking mentors, I am writing directly to you about my new path.

Both of these veterans found themselves in a position that, as they spoke, people listened. People in the business community, people in government. They leveraged this opportunity into an effort to help other veterans…they didn’t forget where they came from.

I don’t know Greg, other than some communication on LinkedIn in which he gave me some timely and applicable advice. And although Florent and I served in the same brigade at the same time during a deployment to Afghanistan in ’09-’10, we didn’t know each other and never met. We were probably in the same chow hall at the same time, that’s about it. I wasn’t prompted to write a praise piece, or trying to jump on a bandwagon. I’m taking the time to write this because these two guys, and thousands more like them, are doing what they can to help their brothers and sisters.

You and I may not have the opportunity that Greg and Florent have, but the thing is, you don’t need it. I don’t need it. I never tried to change the Army while I was in…I just tried to improve my corner of it. You don’t need to reach thousands of veterans, like Greg and Florent…you just need to reach one. Maybe two, the ones to your right and left.

Lack of military leadership in your local government? Guess who can do something about it? Frustrated about the state of your local school? Getting on the school board isn’t hard, just takes some effort. I found myself getting involved with my kid’s education as a member of the Board of Directors for their school, and it’s one of the most fulfilling things that I do. Want to help out another veteran? In Colorado, where I live, there are literally hundreds of 501(c)3 Nonprofits that support veterans. Do some research, pick one that speaks to you, and get involved.

I truly believe that change, real change, for veterans will come when we start taking care of our own. The way Greg is doing it is in the technology field, using LinkedIn as his platform. The way Florent is doing it is by taking advantage of the opportunity he is given to speak for those that may not have as loud a voice. The way that I’m doing it is as a mental health counselor. You can do the same thing, in your own way, exactly where you are.

You have the opportunity to make a difference in a veteran’s life…just don’t forget where you came from.

Did you enjoy this post? Please comment below and share with your network in order to join the conversation regarding veteran mental health. You can sign up for updates from Head Space and Timing and follow Duane, a combat veteran and mental health counselor, on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. Keep the conversation about #veteranmentalhealth going.

Duane France

Duane K. L. France is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a mental health counselor practicing in the state of Colorado. Do you want to join the conversation regarding veteran mental health? Share, like, and comment. Read Duane's previous posts and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep the conversation about #veteranmentalhealth going.