The Morning Formation Podcast

"Vet with a Mic Podcast" Crossover Edition with Ryan

December 19, 2021 KP Season 1 Episode 29
The Morning Formation Podcast
"Vet with a Mic Podcast" Crossover Edition with Ryan
Show Notes Transcript

Today’s guest had recently found his civilian career pivot in the podcasting world and has taken both his military and educational experiences to the microphone and started his own podcast “Vet with a Mic.” 

The host and Veteran advocate of this up-and-coming podcast is Ryan. Having spoken to him, recently, I learned that this proud Navy Veteran has his Masters in Clinical Psychology and currently works as a Program Researcher. The application of his military experience combined with his Middle Tennessee State education makes for a professional who understands and can identify with what our military community endures when transitioning out of the military. Today, we’re going to learn more about him, his background, and his own thoughts on managing PTSD going into 2022.

Vet with a Mic Podcast Website:
https://www.buzzsprout.com/1867168

Vet with a Mic Podcast IG:
https://www.instagram.com/vet_talks4u/

Vet with a Mic YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMUhyZEIwS0

Vet with a Mic Merchandise:
https://vetwithamic.myshopify.com/collections/all

KP:

This episode is powered by Aktau education, go to www dot ACC now education.com For free comprehensive educational resources and opportunities for active duty veterans, military spouses, and children.

Ryan:

You Your compassion, dealing with people in their worst situations every day is the most vital resource you have in those interactions. And if you lose it, you undermine the faith that the community has. So if you want to maintain your professionalism, which I know all of you do, maintain your mental health, take it seriously. Do things that refill your cup so to speak.

KP:

Warriors fall in, it's time for formation. I'm your host KP today. And first and foremost, I want to introduce the man in the making my dude aka future military officer and fellow co host Avi. How's it going this week, man?

Avi Dhanraj:

Pretty good. KP keeping up the grind, keeping up the grind. But would you mind telling everyone what you just recently signed up? To start doing? What classes you're taking?

KP:

Nope. You don't want to talk about real estate? No, not yet. Get away to not pass the exam and all that. Okay. Yeah, you don't want to you don't want to jinx yourself. I guess that's all right, man. You're always busy. That's for sure. And I appreciate your hard work, man. So today's guest had recently found his civilian career pivot in the podcasting world and has taken both his military and educational experiences to the microphone and started his own podcast called vet with a mic. The host and veteran advocate for this up and coming podcast is Ryan, having spoken to him recently, I learned that this proud Navy veteran, has his master's in clinical psychology, and currently works as a program researcher. The application of his military experience combined with his Middle Tennessee State University education makes for a professional who understands and can identify with what our military community indoors when transitioning out of the military. Today, we're going to learn more about him his background and his thoughts on managing PTSD, transitioning and how things are going to go into 2022 and managing our own mental health. Thank you for joining us today, Ryan. It's pleasure to be here. Your Honor is all ours. Man. I tell you, Ryan, have you ever had the microphone turned on yourself for an interview before? I have a couple times I have? It's I mean, I'm used to I'm used to sit in the chair, so to speak. Yeah, it's actually

Ryan:

it. I've already started that early on. I think it was my fourth podcast that I did. I didn't have a guest. I was brand new at doing this. And so I thought I got to publish something. So I did a turn the microphone on myself. And I did a episode where it was get to know the podcast host and it was really difficult, man, I don't know what your experiences was like getting started. But getting the courage to just sit in front of this microphone and video and and talk. And it was nice, because I just kind of spoke from the heart. And I got a lot of really good feedback from that episode. Actually, I was I was quite surprised. But But yeah, so thank you for joining us today. And Ryan, with all your experiences in education. Would you mind telling us what inspired you to get out of the Navy and start studying psychology? Oh, well, I wish that there was a neat story there. But much as much as most things that happened in my life, I kind of fall into it. But I you know, I did five years in the Navy and my last duty station. I was just burned out man. I was tired of the lifestyle. I moved several times at this point in my first two years I did mobile security. So we were on the move a lot. I mean, I probably went to at least 10 countries my first year. It was it was pretty daunting. And so by the time I got to Europe for my next duty station, I was just wore out and I was looking for something new I was I had this longing to go back home. But little did I know that home wasn't what I remember. So I got out and I make the joke all the time that there was a nice sized hole in the wall. That's That's how quickly I wanted to get out sort of Looney Tunes style. And I thought I had a plan. But as most people can kind of relate to our plans fall apart pretty easily after the uniform. Because most of the time we're trying to do it, you know, several 1000 miles away. So when you're trying to plan that next move, there's just a lot of variables that you can't really handle being in a different geographical Okay, so I got out and spent a year, maybe a little longer kind of floundering around a bit. And I said, You know what, I'm going to go back to school, because I had tried college before and had kind of spun my wheels a bit. And so I thought, all right, well, let's just try it. I mean, it's paid for as much as well use it. And I went to the campus, and I really kind of felt out of place, obviously, because I was 30. At this point, most of my classmates were in their early 20s. And I just happened to really connect with a couple of faculty members at during my undergraduate, I really loved psychology or just understanding human behavior generally. And I kind of had a knack for it. So so a couple opportunities opened, opened up for me, I took advantage of them. And I decided, well, you know what, you can't really do much with a bachelor's in psychology. Lots of bartenders have a bachelor's in psychology. So I decided I'd go into graduate school, in graduate school. That's where I really found my groove. Of course, research is is really important at the graduate level. But I noticed that within our military community, there was just a lack of I would just say, Trust that was coming from the military population towards mental health providers. And so I went, Well, what can I do to help? What can I do to kind of change that? Because under utilization of mental health services is to our detriment? So that's where I kind of just started to float towards that direction. Yeah.

KP:

Yeah. And, you know, I transitioned out of the military, myself, did four years enlisted National Guard, and then four years active duty as an officer commissioned officer and I got out in 2007, and 2007, he joined the Navy in 2009. In 2007, there wasn't a whole lot going on. And I talked, I actually spoke to Scott from Drive on podcast yesterday. And he told me that when he got out, he was just trying to get he was just trying to pass trying to say yes, sir, no, ma'am. Three bags full just to get through all the counseling and the media, out processing, I guess, you know, after coming back from Afghanistan. And I kind of did the same thing to in 2007. You know, being an officer, I was able to kind of just get the checkmarks and get out. And I did not seek counseling, I did not want anything to do with the VA when I first got out. And it took me years before I finally came around to but I want to ask you, Ryan, mental health wise and the experience that you do have with your education, do you find it more difficult to work with the veteran community versus the civilian population? What are the differences that you see there?

Ryan:

It really just comes down to culture. I would say I'm tempted to say yes, that working within military populations is more difficult. But that's mainly because of, there's some cultural things that you need to kind of clean up. Number one, whenever somebody goes to a mental health provider in the uniform, while they're still active duty. They need to understand that a mental health professional, their goal is to protect the mission, not just the person. And so if you talk to somebody, while you're in the uniform, and you say something that makes you there is a compromise toward your mission effectiveness or your mission readiness, that person has to make the judgment call whether or not to inform your chain of command. So people can talk to mental health providers while they're in the uniform, they feel as if they were burned, because they opened up and then their their chain of command found out about it. And now they're once bitten twice shy. So that's that's one part you kind of have to just clean up that the second part is a guess more on the, on the street level is the military culture, generally speaking, has been reactionary. So whenever somebody raises their hand and says, Hey, I want to go talk to somebody. Chain of commands have responded by jerking that person out of their job, and putting them off to the side to work by themselves so they can keep an eye on them. But of course, what does that do? It isolates them and alienates them from their coworkers, who is there our entire social support structure. So now and there's also demeaning too, so it kind of just adds an extra level to how they're feeling. And once somebody sees something like that happen, there's just a chilling effect that happens down the ranks. Nobody's gonna then volunteer to go talk to medical again, after they've saw something like that happened to somebody. So you kind of have to clean up all these issues. People come to the to the therapy session with that kind of previous experiences, or at least their just general core cultural orientation. Now civilians have their own things that they come into the picture with, we all have these stigmas that we view towards mental health. We all have these, I guess you'd say, misinformed conceptions of what the mental health process or the mental health treatment, how it goes. Because we watch movies and TV shows, and people think that, that they're accurate, but they're not really there. They're just tropes that we use to kind of communicate shorthands about the mental health process. There is no magic test, there is no magic session that somebody can come down and sit and in an office somewhere, and then all of a sudden, everything's gonna be fine. It takes a lot of work takes a lot of effort to work on your mental health. And it's a long and arduous process. So just to kind of as a caveat there, I at first, during my training, I avoided working with veterans, I didn't want to, because I knew these things about our culture, I was like, There's no way I want to like wade into that stuff again, right? Because I saw it with my own for my own two eyes, I knew about it firsthand. And I just knew that it was going to take that much more work to kind of undo all of that. But in my own private life, my personal life, I came across a provider in my own treatment, that was not culturally competent. So we say in the business, and she alienated me and undermined the therapeutic relationship really quickly. Because she asked me not to use profanity in the in the session. I, that's kind of just one of those things, you're not really supposed to do that. That's called imposing a value upon your client. It's not, it's not copacetic to do that. And so I had a reframe after that, because I went, look, here I am, I've been trained in a lot of the stuff that she's using. And if I put myself into the position of my my brothers and sisters in the uniform, if this was them sitting in the chair, so to speak, how would they have responded? And I assume that they probably would have went, Okay, yes, ma'am. And then just never went back. And that's a giant problem for our veteran mental health.

Avi Dhanraj:

Definitely, definitely agree, Ryan. And that subject, especially since it hits so close to home, just has so much weight. Now, speaking of those cultural differences between the military and the civilian world, that's something we'd like to talk about a lot, especially in this podcast. Now, when you are transitioning and seeing those differences, did that come as a culture shock to you? And just so for anyone listening? How can other military veterans, particularly those interested in psychology, can rid themselves of these misconceptions and these stigmas around their mental health and the mental health of others?

Ryan:

Well, there's a long question. So let's start from the top. I'm the was I surprised during my own transition? Yeah. But it was, it was a way that I didn't really fully understand at the time. I knew that I generally felt a little disconnected from people. I didn't understand why. I'm from a small East Tennessee town. And I'd let's just say, you know, you can't go back to Kansas anymore, so to speak, right? I had seen AWS I had saw the rest of the world and I saw what beautiful things there were outside of my little corner of the world in which I was born. And just on that basis alone, it's really hard to, to connect with people who have not had those same experiences. I make the joke all the time, back where I'm from, people go to vacation to Panama City Beach, and that's a big deal for them. Well, I laid out on beaches, and Terra Mina, Sicily, like it's just your worldview is going to be completely shifted after that. And so I did not, I did not prepare, excuse me, I guess the military, the Navy did not really kind of shine a light on those kind of issues moving after moving to life after the uniform. So I found that I had a lot of time, a lot of trouble connecting with people who just didn't understand how the world really was. I know that kind of sounds a little condescending, but it's just, you don't know what you don't know. And there's just so much of the world that people don't really get exposed to in the military life you're exposed to so much. So I did notice however, whenever I started looking at the clinical literature for during my training, and I looked at How military populations report, I noticed that those kind of thoughts and feelings were reported often by people that they were interviewing from previous service members. So something that was pretty common, I didn't understand how common it was obviously at the time, but I felt really alienated from other people. Because I just didn't relate to them anymore. You know, I knew what it was like to, to live in Europe, I knew what it was like to, to be in the Middle East or to Africa, nobody could really relate to those lived experiences. Um, so I guess the only remedy that I found to that was, I started to try to cultivate relationships with people who had the veteran identity. So regardless, and let's let's clear up something really quickly. The word veteran is a pretty poorly defined word, because the experiences that you can have in the uniform vary so much. You can be like KP, and be a National Guard's member. And people think, Oh, well, you just stayed at home the entire time. But no, not really, you can go to lots of overseas deployments, you can be somebody who is in the high speed jobs, as we've kind of talked before. And that doesn't mean that you've seen combat, but you can be in an admin position, and then just happen to be in a go on deployment and be in live fire. You just never know what experiences you're going to have in the uniform. So there's no prototype, there's no model that we can look at, and say this is what a veteran is. But we do have an overarching culture that we all share. We all have this idea of answering the call unto us before others is kind of the the Creed in which we all have inborn to us. So if you can connect with people who have that overarching culture, and they've they've had similar experiences, maybe they haven't been to Europe, maybe they've been to Japan, but they know what it's like to be a foreigner to live in a culture that's not your own. They know what it's like to live in a place where no one speaks English, those experiences are the overarching fabric that you can really plug into to the veteran identity that makes really strong social support elements that are vital to your life after the uniform.

Avi Dhanraj:

Yeah, Ryan? Yeah, definitely. Slowly, sorry, Caitlin was gonna hit him with a follow up question. Now, Ryan, that was a phenomenal analogy and explanation as to how veterans can approach that mentality, love to hear it. Now what about transitioning veterans with current mental disabilities or impedances that potentially have, you know, maybe insecurities about fitting in into various communities orders, having trouble finding jobs, or finding communities to involve himself in?

Ryan:

I'm sorry, what, what? What was the question?

Avi Dhanraj:

What about like,

Ryan:

do I have specific advice for them? Yes, well, so that's all of us. We all have mental health issues. And I think that's just shining a light that we all have something whether it's depression, anxiety, PTSD, we're all going to have these adjustment problems that are related to life after the uniform. And within the DSM five, we actually call it adjustment disorder. If you meet that diagnostic criteria, which is kind of like a smaller version of a have a PTSD type symptomology. But I will say that if you can connect with people, regardless of whatever struggles you're finding yourself with, I, in my estimation, with my clinical research, social support really is a Assaf a bomb, that really makes a lot of these issues in life a lot more tolerable. And this is what I mean. Let's just say you're on the side of the road, and you have a flat tire. Now, the first thing you do is Oh, hell, what am I gonna do now? Right? If you know how to change a flat tire, you may not feel as threatened by that. But for the sake of the argument, we're going to say that you don't, okay. So, as soon as you have to meet that challenge from the environment, if you have five people that you can just rattle off the top of your head that you know will come to your aid and help you change that tire. Just imagine how much less threatening that stressor becomes. It just the bottom drops out of it. And it's just, it's synergistic too, because as soon as that person gets there, and they help you change that tire, you can directly benefit by learning how to change the tire, so you don't need them the next time. Right. So these things when it comes to utilizing social capital, when these social support elements, they are so powerful, they not only address the stressor you're dealing with right now, they address the stressor you'll deal with tomorrow. And they they up your sense of self efficacy, this idea that you can handle whatever the environment throws at you. People, your relationships are pretty much the launching points for your self efficacy. So regardless of whatever you're coming to the table with, if you can connect with people, and not shy away, not retreat from them, but actually engage with them. Your ability to navigate whatever you're going to face after the uniform, is going to the probability of you being successful is going to increase.

Avi Dhanraj:

What an analogy, I love that.

Ryan:

I've worked on it a time or two.

KP:

There's several things that you talked about Ryan, that got me thinking going all the way back to what you talked about chain of command pulling folks out of the ranks. And it's sort of sad, because yesterday, I was at the VA, and one of the VA police officers there. I spoke to him real briefly. And he mentioned to me, he goes, Oh, are you? Are you service connected? And I said, Yeah. And he goes, Oh, that's good, man. I'm glad to hear that. And he goes, I'm a veteran too. And I now work, you know, VA police. And he goes, a lot of people don't, especially when they come out of uniform. And if they go into law enforcement, they sometimes don't want to get service connected because of the stigma, or they feel like they may not be able to hold this job. And that's really unfortunate, because I can't imagine how many first responders out there are kind of holding stuff inside. And and in a certain way, because of the experiences that they have, are very similar to what a lot of military veterans endure and what they go through. And I just found that quite fascinating when you said that. And then secondly, when you talked about your, your idea of being on the beach in Italy in places like that. Well, I was a military brat. No, my dad was stationed at 25th in Hawaii. And so I grew up on the beaches of Hawaii. And then when he retired and he moved to the state of Ohio, I hear people talking about Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach. So I go down the Myrtle Beach. And I'm like, this isn't Hawaii, like this is not this is not my idea of vacationing so and you know not to not to put anything down. But when you've been to places like that before and then your idea of a beach is of certain this and then you go to that it's like now this is not what I thought it was but but Ryan staying on the on the mental health portion of the of the podcast for folks that are already out there. And they're seeking, you know, PTSD treatment for themselves. Do you have any self help tips with managing our mental health going into 2022? I asked this because in today's world, we have this little device called a phone and it it literally is our media, it's the way we communicate with people. It's the way we monitor our health, it does so many things for us, there's a lot of noise going on. And for me talking with folks like you and shutting off that noise, especially the news helps me in so many ways to communicate and relate with everything within our society. So what advice would you have kind of self help advice would you have for folks out there who are already seeking that PTSD treatment?

Ryan:

So I would start with just this. Just to kind of backtrack just a second. When you're a first responder, or when you're cuz in my job in the military, I was a military police officer. So you know, I walked in both circles for a bit. Okay. So working a fatal accident. traffic accident, for example, is an abnormal situation. You're you're dealing with things that not a lot of people, their worst day is your day to day, right? So it's an abnormal situation that you constantly and chronically put yourself in. So it's not a matter of if these things will impact your psychological health. It's a matter of when. So just being cognizant of them and understanding that these events, your day to day events are going to undermine yours, social or your mental health resources. Okay? And when that happens, it undermines your professionalism. I'm going to say that again, everything within first responders, especially law enforcement, they are professionals in nature. So if you want to maintain your professionalism, you have to make efforts to keep your mental health strong. Because the all the day to day factors that you have to deal with, they're eventually going to cumulatively overwhelm your resources to adapt. So if you don't actively daily, pour those resources back into you, you will deal with things like burnout, which is just and a law enforcement capacity is dangerous, because you will not be attending to everything in the environment that you need to attend to. That's where that's where you can get hurt on a traffic on a traffic stop, you just stepped out into traffic because you weren't paying attention as much as you should. And then of course, compassion, fatigue is the other part. Your compassion, dealing with people in their worst situations every day, is the most vital resource you have in those interactions. And if you lose it, you undermine the faith that the community has in you. So if you want to maintain your professionalism, which I know all of you do, maintain your mental health, take it seriously, do things that refill your cup, so to speak. Now, in saying that, right, how do we refill our cup? Well, there's a couple ways to do it. First, I would say, understanding that doing your best looks different every day. So there is no standard that you can measure by some days are going to be rougher than others. But doing your best every day is really important. All right. So in saying that, though, don't lose sight to the bigger picture. If you're battling with something, you're making incremental steps all along the way. And so it's easy to look back at the last step. And go man, I didn't get as far as as I needed to for this day. But if you look from where you started, you've made so much progress. So keeping that in mind is of the utmost importance, is don't get locked in a recency bias, where you're just concerned with. To put it to an academic kind of sense. If you made an a on the test yesterday, understand that you've made a ton of A's across the entire time. And so if you made a B on the test yesterday, that doesn't mean that you're a failure doesn't mean that you have it that all of those things that you've done so well gets disqualified or discounted. They're still important to you, and they're part of the process. So how do we refill our cup, so to speak. So in the psychological literature, we, we talked about this idea of flow, doing things that are intrinsically motivating, what we enjoy doing them, for the sake of doing them, find those things to do in your life, they're gonna vary to whatever person they are, like mine on, and if you guys can see behind me, it's, I play guitar poorly. So those things I can do, to kind of refill my cup, it helps me channel a lot of my mental energy into something that I find intrinsically enjoyable. Now, we get so concerned with all the external motivations of life, like, you may really enjoy your life or your your job, excuse me. But as soon as you enter into a paycheck, your intrinsic joy, switches to an extrinsic motivation. So the paycheck is robbing you of your joy of whatever you love doing your, in your in your professional life. So it's not just enough to, to focus on doing what you love. There has to be this internal motivation, this internal joy in which you're, you're taking from it. So in that regard, I think if we can move the bar, instead of aiming for happiness, we aim for well being, because happiness is an emotional state, like everything else. So but everybody wants to be happy. But it's not really a tangible or a realistic goal. Because it's an emotional state. It's transient in nature, it'll, it's Here today, gone tomorrow. But well being is this idea in which you can strive every day to have a good life. Just that small reframe. aim helps people understand that it takes a lot of pressure off of themselves to be happy. Because when you're happy, and you're comparing it to the happiness standard, it robs you from being happy in that moment. Because you have to have things perfect for happy. And there's never going to be a time in which you're going to have perfection, right. And then whenever things are, you're at a low point, you're in a valley, it makes the contrast feel even more so. Right, because you have this perfection that you're, you're failing to me even more so in this lower period in your life. So having said all of that, aim for wellbeing. And so people who have a lot of well being in their life, they do a couple things, they do a lot of things that utilize flow. But most importantly, you get it again, I kind of feel like I'm harping on the same topic here. But they show a lot of gratitude. They show a lot of gratitude towards other people in their life. They express their graciousness in their thankfulness for people every day. And that boosts their sense of well being, because it reframes their mind because Gratitude is the antithesis of entitlement. And it's easy to start thinking about what the world owes you for your service. Because A, we sacrificed a lot, that's a normal feeling to have, that people don't understand all we have given up for them. But it's also one that will suck you down if you let it If so, if you can flip that frame, and just talk about gratitude, being grateful for existing, being grateful for the people that you have in your life every day. And the the joy that which they can bring you or just the support they bring you. And those kind of reframes are really powerful to move into this sense of well being. So I say that to say, this idea of gratefulness and gratitude. It's a force multiplier to because people want to be around people who show that they appreciate them a lot. So it sometimes is from US veterans, we have trouble expressing our feelings and our emotions, specifically, even positive ones, which is, which is odd, we're really quick to tell people how pissed off we are. But we have a difficult time and expressing those positive emotions. But when you do the loved ones in your life, really appreciate it. And they will want to do more for you. Because you're expressing gratitude for them. And people like to be around people who are who are grateful for whatever interactions they're having with them. So I guess that's, that's my little two cents there. show some gratitude, find something to do that you really love. Connect with people, by doing the things you love, even like, go into the guitar, or go into the gym, you meet people doing the same things that you're doing that you love, which it just adds to your social capital. And all these things you can see they kind of build upon themselves. Yeah, I know, there's a long winded answer.

KP:

No, I totally understand what you're saying, man. And, you know, doing these podcasts and speaking to folks like you, is really what fills my cup, because even though I live in a huge city of Los Angeles, you would think that I'd be just a few houses down from another fellow veteran that I can speak to, and I really don't have anyone in my family around here. And I have very few friends that have actually been military before they can talk about and my civilian friends, they don't understand the connection that we have. But, you know, this is really this is one of the main reasons I have, you know, aside all the help that he gives me and all the assistance that he that he provides for the podcast and the support for this is why I have Avi here. Avi has no idea what it's like of being in the military. But someday he's gonna be a military leader. And having him part of this conversation, and having him understand the folks that he's going to be leading, and what they're going to be enduring, what they're gonna be going through. I think that's a step in the direction that US veterans need to take as far as mentoring folks that are going to be future leaders. And Avi has been on so many different podcasts and and I know he does his best to try to relate to everything and he's extremely smart professional himself. It's it's, it's something that's actually something I think that we need to focus on more is getting in touch with some of the guys and gals that are going to go in service and having them hear things like what you just said about gratitude and self help, and and that that level of happiness. And man, I can't, I can't explain to you like how impactful like your entire statement was right there. It was long, but at the end of the day, it made a whole lot of sense. And I was talking to you yesterday, you're very well spoken. And we were speaking offline, you caught me saying something that I never really noticed myself saying before, and it was when I said, I just did this when I was deployed. And it kind of made and you caught me. And you said, What did you just say that? Why did you just say I just did. And and I thought to myself? Yeah, why did I just say that? Why did I just like basically dumb down my own military combat service? Would you mind speaking a little more on your experiences? And how you actually caught that? Do you catch a lot of veterans kind of talking themselves down?

Ryan:

I do. I do. And we do. We cut our legs off from underneath. And I guess eight first entered into my awareness is whenever I was doing it to myself, and then I started just kind of go, why am I doing that? Why am I undermining and just taken the legs out from underneath my own quality of service? And I think it goes, there's a few reasons why I feel like we do that. One is because of those variable of experiences that we just talked about, there's so much variation within the uniform, that we don't really accurately assess what our contribution is to the greater mission. Now, I talked about this a lot on my show, but only about 15% of the entire uniform, carry a weapon for their job. That means 85% of the rest of the entire uniformed services do not have combat roles. Now of that 15%, you can just trim that down to another 15% actually have combat experiences. And yet, when you watch TV, when you watch movies, that's the only part that ever gets shot. Those are the only media representations you ever see. Because they're the sexy ones. There's sensationalized ones, right? They're the heroes. And so we internalize that, I believe, we internalize that, and compare that standard to our own uniform experiences. Now, there's a reason why Special Forces guys are elite, because they're very statistically rare. If everybody could do it, they would, because who wouldn't want to be a seal, and just walk around being a badass all day, right. But those type of people are selected for certain traits, because they are rare. They are statistically so rare. And if you're going to compare it to an outlier, so to speak, it's like comparing your IQ to somebody who's on Elon Musk's kind of level, how you're always going to feel shitty about yourself, if you're comparing yourself to somebody who has like a 150 IQ, because they're like, less than a percent, the entire population, much less veterans themselves, or people who have served is all we're only seven to 8% of the entire US population. So it's really powerful that these representations that we see within movies, they're not only not accurate, but they kind of undermine our mental health too. Now, I think that this is multi pronged. It's not just the media representations, but it's the interactions that we have with civilians to. Alright, so civilians come up, and they say, Thank you for your service. And we immediately get placed into a state of discomfort. Because we go, Well, I just did it to escape, whatever I had going on in my life, or I was just trying to make myself better. There wasn't these large, you know, altruistic motivations for joining the uniform necessarily. We do have those were patriotic to a certain extent, but like you take my story specifically, I joined in 2008 because of the recession. I was 24 when I turned when I was in basic. So I joined because I was running out a road. Right? It wasn't because I had some love for the nation necessarily. I had to do something to eat. And I was just a poor white boy from East Tennessee man, I had to do something right. So I, when people have those, they come to the uniform with those kind of really, let's just say, difficult pathways. When you say that to them, it puts them in this state of ah, well, I'm not a hero, man. And then they also think about whatever their quality of service was, whatever their experiences were. Did they? Did they ever go CONUS, where they only in CONUS? They start evaluating all the little variables that made up their time in the uniform. And they're comparing it to the standard of people who are statistically so rare. No one's gonna meet those standards. If you're comparing your your standard, your service to somebody who has a Medal of Honor, of course, how are you going to? It's not it's not exactly an accurate measure. And so I think what happens is, when we have these inner interactions, we have these unrealistic standards that we're comparing them to. And then it's so common that we all do it, that it reinforces the, like buddy of mine was a door knocker, and a wreck. And he still undermines his service, he still undercuts his own service, if he'll do it. What hope do we have to somebody who was, you know, peeling potatoes in Iraq, so to speak, if, because if they're doing it, they're going to do it too. And the people who never deployed are going to do it. And I think this is one of the huge parts that make up the 22 a day kind of variance is these people are comparing their service. And it's robbing them of the joy of service that they have. Because it undermines their quality. But I could go on forever about it. I but that's that's kind of just a little personal hypothesis that I'm running right now. But you know,

KP:

Ryan, that's one of the weirdest things man, like, whenever somebody says, Thank you for your service. And I always reply with what was an absolute honor. But for the longest time, I really didn't know what to say. Because sometimes that would be followed up with. So did you. Did you see any action? And I'm like, Well, what's? Yeah, I mean? Yeah. Did I did I run over an ID? Yes. I did run over an id like, did I? Did I run through firefights in vehicles? Yes, I did. Like, is that action? Like? I mean, comparatively, comparatively to you civilian like, action? Like, that's to me. It's just a weird question. And I've never really been comfortable with answering with with the whole thank you for your service thing. Like it was it was an absolute honor. And I'm glad I did it. But then when the follow up question comes was well, did you see any action? Just like? It's kind of a personal question. And it's not something I don't want to get into standing here in front of target right now. But, you know, but yeah, just

Ryan:

Yeah, we all have these Jackass interactions with them. Right. Did you kill anybody? Yeah. And I. So this brings into the second prong, really. So I get you can tell I've been in academia too long. I start going on these long winded, pontificating upon things. But the second prong is stereotype threat for veterans is a real thing. For those of you don't know it stereotype threat is it is an internal discomfort in which we all feel at the thought of inadvertently confirming negative stereotypes. But there's also a second part to that there's positive stereotypes, too. So positive stereotypes can also be threatening, right? So one that I guess they usually have racial identity, like, most people will say, well, Asians are good at math. Well, imagine if you're Asian, and you're not good at math, you don't really feel that great about it. Right? Right. Right. So So these positive stereotypes can have their own baggage to them, too. So here's, here's essentially what we're circling around. The negative stereotype is this. Oh, you're in the unhinged veteran. You know, you're the oh, he's he PTSD, Pat or something, you know, and we said, we don't want we kind of self censor, and only portray ourselves in the way in which we, we can to make sure that we're not confirming this negative stereotype they may have about people who have served. But the positive stereotype is this too. We have to do something to maintain the image of our brothers and sisters who lost their lives in the service. The people who have gave so much across time, so we don't want to do anything that to to discredit their memory, their legacy. And when people call us heroes and you know they they put us into that position. We go, oh shit. I don't want to like make all veterans look bad. But I also don't want that guy to get away with saying that to me right now. Because that's essentially when somebody says, Did you see anything? They're actually adding an evaluation on you. They're assessing you to their standard. Did you do enough? Well, did you see any combat? First of all 85%, like we just talked about are not in those kinds of positions the first damn place. Second of all, screw you, dude, what did you do? All right, you have no way of qualifying or quantifying my experiences that I spent in the uniform, which is funny, because I'll hear stuff like this, just to make you feel a little better. Well, it's not like you did anything dangerous. You were in the Navy? Well, actually, my life was standing behind a machine gun the majority of my time, like, and I've spent 27 months or so like going in and out of Iraq. So No, probably not your average sailor experiences. But that's what they do to us, which just kind of aggravates the, the feeling alienated and disconnected from the civilian population, generally speaking, after the uniform. And I, I like to change something I would prefer people say, Thank you for your sacrifice versus thank you for your service. And it seems on the surface, just a very kind of arbitrary change. But what I think it does is, is it alleviates people from that standard of, oh, well, did you see combat or whatever, which we think of, in the Hollywood tropes. And whether it's just you spent time away from your family on the holidays, or you gave up your time, in some capacity, you were sacrificing. It validates your experiences, without comparing them to some other unrealistic standard, that is the statistical outlier. So I'd like to see that happen is from going thank you for your service, which is a hollow virtue signal, like BS, like, it takes about as much time to say happy birthday, you get no skin in the game, man. I appreciate it on its surface. But if you would stop placing us in these in these positions, psychologically, I would appreciate that too.

Avi Dhanraj:

100% Now I'm going to be addressing veterans, as thank you for your sacrifice from now on, I appreciate your definitely. But that was very, very powerful Ryan, adding on your own experience in to the lessons you've learned. And the experiences that you've seen firsthand is like no other type of learning. And that's phenomenal. And it gives us a lot of perspective on how to approach any of these people that we might meet out in the wild or in the civilian sector. Or even, you know, when I Oh, and I transition into the Air Force, how I can interact with these people and make sure that every second counts. So that's amazing. Now, speaking of the wild, when you are transitioning out of the military, would you mind sharing your experiences, and some of the more important takeaways that the audience members would definitely learn from?

Ryan:

So my experiences I talked a little bit about this, but I was going through divorce whenever I was getting out. So I was pretty much displaced in every sense of the word, getting down to the uniform. But, you know, if I didn't have my sister, if she didn't offer me a place to stay, I would have been in some pretty dire straits. So I can just say, from off the top, don't be too prideful. accept help from people as much as you can utilize the resources you have available to you. Even if it's, I felt some kind of way about moving back in to my sister's house, you know, I mean, I felt like less of a of a grown up or less of a man. But what were the alternatives? The street. I mean, we just we don't want to be too prideful and I get it. We're prideful bunch of us vets are but we have to take advantage of the resources that we have available to us. So secondly just I guess, extend a little bit more compassion to yourself and to others. would be something that I would say is it's okay not to be okay. It's okay to not have everything figured out. You know, a lot of times in the military, we, we harp on this idea of, of acting as if we have control over, sometimes uncontrollable situations. And just cut yourself a little slack. And if you can cut yourself a little slack and other slack, I think that will help ease the transition. Um, civilians are not military members, they don't have the same civilian or the same military culture as you do. So these every day kind of rub up against you may have with with the civilian population, they're to your detriment, not to theirs, they just walk away going, lag, I was an asshole. They don't, you haven't changed, you haven't changed their perspective. If you have a meeting with somebody, and they show up a few minutes late, and the civilian culture, that's not a big deal. In the military culture, it is it's a, it's a slap in the face. But you need to understand that you have to use the social script that's appropriate for the setting, you're not in the uniform anymore, you have to adapt to the new setting. If you keep trying to use military script, and civilian interactions, you are going to lose, it's not going to benefit you. It's going to hurt you. You're going to miss that job, you're going to miss the opportunities to grow, because you're not applying the right social script to the right social setting. I guess those are two of the things that I really struggled with. I got mad at shit man. mad at stuff that I didn't understand was just their daily life. Like, how I got myself all worked up over things that were just I was still trying to live in the military culture. But I was in this in the civilian culture. Well, that's my I'm the one that's the that's in the wrong, not them. They're just living their normal life. But it's hard to see that perspective at first. Because you're just like, yeah, these nasty civilians, blah, blah, blah. You hear it a lot. But I hope that was of that was a sufficient answer.

KP:

Yeah, I can certainly relate to a lot of what you mentioned with your transition, Ryan. And that is some great advice, because I've heard of folks before trying to use the military script on civilians. And it just doesn't work. I actually had a friend of mine who recently literally quit her job. Because the the, the new guy that had taken over, was trying to use a military script on the entire workforce. And literally, there were several people that were mainstays at this position had been there for a very long time decided to quit, and some of them even opened their own business. So if anything, it just didn't work. And I understand what you're saying when. And I've talked to Danelle John's on a recent podcast, and he talked about how he utilized soft skills when training civilian real estate agents. And I thought, wow, that's genius. I never thought of that before. But that's very, very, very true. So I definitely identify as well, I love what you're saying. And Ryan, before we finished off the episode today, I want to make sure that we touch on that with a mic. Would you mind telling us the mission of your podcast? And what inspired you to start it?

Ryan:

Oh, well, you know, it's an evolving idea, I guess. But I guess originally, I did it because I wanted to fill the gap so to speak. I knew that there were I would field questions all day long from veterans about just things that Miss apprehensions about the mental health process and what they could expect from it. And so I wanted to kind of demystify the process to take all the mystery out of it is, hey, look, this is what you can expect going into it. This is what this provider does, this is what this provider does. So that you know, you're an informed consumer up and down the chain, so to speak, so that you're not coming in with unrealistic expectations for a mental health provider. Because that happens a lot. Even the civilian population, they don't really think that it's going to take as much work for them. They're there. They're fix me, Jeremy, right. Excuse me. So I wanted to kind of dispel some of this, that we see so much within our culture, and just to remove the suspicion as much as possible because things that we don't know, are much more threatening than the things that we do. So if I could just provide a little background information for him. It's it's not as threatening. It's not as there's not as much anxiety surrounding going and utilizing mental health services. I wanted to kind of cleaned up the VA image too, because I was answering a lot of questions. And I would ask somebody this like, so did you get set up as a VA patient over there? And they were like, No, hell no, screw that. Not going over there. Why? Well, because, you know, I heard you heard what? Well, I heard that they're terrible over there. But have you been? No? Well, how do you know you're basing your entire perspective? off of something you heard second third hand was like, were messy people to the veterans are? How do you know that guy was telling the truth? Or at least he was giving you accurate information unless you're going to go over there yourself. And so I wanted to kind of just say, hey, utilize yet again, these resources that are available to you. You have to interact with the systems to change them for the better. If you're not going to an all you're going to do is complain about it? Well, we're not getting anywhere, we're just spinning our wheels. So I thought that that was another thing that we could do. Now, lastly, the interview portions of it with a mic is I wanted to lift up models for people to utilize, so that they could look to and go, Oh, well, I dealt with that. I dealt with this. And look, this guy's handling it well, or this gal, she's she's doing it all right. And because we hear so much about the issues and the problems that we have, that we'd never hear anything about the positive representations that we actually do, however, doing well after the uniform, you know, because there's just so much negativity out there in the space, that we don't hear a lot about how well veterans are doing in life after the uniform. So that those are kind of that's the elevator pitch, so to speak of that with a mic. But it's an evolving process. I would love to eventually see it take a larger role within discourse. But we're just one episode at a time right now. I'm sure you can relate.

KP:

No, I really think that you're on the right road, man, you definitely got my attention with just your logo and your presence on Instagram. And I'm really glad that you know, that we connected in and, and you know, I hope to do more work with you. Because Ryan, you, you have a unique, very well spoken perspective as a veteran, especially with your education and your background. So definitely looking forward to having more conversations, because I think you definitely bring a lot of value to the table. So thank you for having this interview today. Man. It's been awesome. And I'm like I said, I'm looking forward to doing more in the future. Hey, Avi, do you have anything before we close out the episode that you'd like to add?

Avi Dhanraj:

Not much KP. I'm very, very happy with how this episode turned out. Ryan, you have a bunch of phenomenal experiences. And such valuable insight, especially for a lot of the veterans who are out there who have been in your position or are currently in there. Speaking from you're transitioning your education, it's just amazing how much value you can provide to our listeners. And I'm super excited to check out your podcast as well. And I highly recommend that to anybody listening as well.

Ryan:

I appreciate that. I am so uncomfortable with braze. But thanks, guys, thanks a lot.

KP:

Yeah, so I think you know, an AVI, I think it's gonna be kind of cool. In the next five to six, seven years or so we look back at episodes like this, Ryan, and you can probably understand what I'm saying. But when AVI is wearing uniform, and he's wearing the ranks or whatever, and he gets, he looks back at this episode, and he's wearing his black polo shirt, braces, and he's talking to military veterans, he's gonna be like, Damn, I've come a long way. And I I can tell you for myself, I took a few videos when I was deployed overseas. And I'm thankful that I did that. Because, you know, I had forgotten about where I was versus where I am now. I think that's what's so cool about having an obvious, you know, involved in these in these episodes. So, but, Ryan, do you have anything for audience members?

Ryan:

No, no, like, like I said, hey, check out that with a mic if you guys get a some time to spare, if you have any time to spare is rare resources that is, but you know, we work hard. So we're pretty proud of what we're doing.

KP:

Speaking of which, if folks are interested in finding you on your social platforms or contacting you, how can they do that?

Ryan:

So I mean, unfortunately, I'm on all the social medias now. I'm on Twitter and you know, Facebook and all of them. But yeah, I guess the easiest way is just to find me that with a mike the page on Facebook, or you can find me on Instagram, which is how you and I connected or you know if you have any potential interviews that you'd like to see done, and you know, KP can't handle all the workload. Yeah, you can always hit him. Hit me up at Ryan at vet with mike.com.

KP:

Yeah, definitely. Ryan, I gotta tell this man, you're off to a great start. I'm looking forward to doing more work with you. As for today's episode as for today's episode Avi Ryan and myself that's a wrap I want you guys to stay tuned stay focused and stay motivated warriors fall out