Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Interview with Karl Monger at GallantFew

Karl Monger is the Director of GallantFew, a charity for veterans. 

My Ranger brother Karl Monger interviewed me for the second time a couple of weeks ago, and he posted the interview as a podcast on the GallantFew Podcast page.

Karl interviewed me for the first time last year, in 2017, for his New American Veteran series. 

Karl distinguishes himself tirelessly assisting Ranger veterans in transition: from serving in uniform to returning to civilian life--a transition that is supremely challenging.

Think on this for a moment. Young airborne Rangers face the same dilemma year after year: to remain in the US Army for 20 years? Or to separate and attempt to return to civilian life? 

I advise anyone who asks me to stay in for 20. When you get older, that retirement income is vital. The medical insurance through TriCare is far superior to medical care purchased on the economy. When you get older, medical treatment becomes a major line item in your monthly budget. 

Either way, transition is not simple. Serving soldiers in the Ranger Regiment are immersed in an encompassing culture. You know precisely where you fit, you know exactly what is expected of you, and it takes everything that you have to meet those expectations. 

The Ranger Regiment is comprised of world class soldiers. 

Many do separate to return to academia. Speaking for myself, I was too young, too unfocused, too undisciplined when I attended university the first time in 1978-9. I was more interested in the esoteric bookstores surrounding the CU campus. 

I ended up dropping out, and I enlisted in the US Army via the Ranger option in 1979. By 1987, after four years in the 2d Ranger Battalion and two years in the 1st Special Forces Group, I was ready to return to academia. 

I was a relentless student, laser focused on my schoolwork. I earned a 4.0 GPA by the time that I was commissioned a lieutenant in the Infantry in 1990.

I learned discipline in the US Army. While I was a student, I remained attached to the Green Machine through ROTC. I was an airborne Ranger, a combat veteran: I was virtually unstoppable. 

My own transition happened after I resigned from DEA in 1991. I was suddenly cut loose, no longer a soldier. The USG determined that I was physically incapable of being a soldier. I refused to accept this, and I returned to the Special Warfare Center, the home of the Green Berets, in 1992. 

By 1994, the verdict was impossible to deny. I was done. 

I literally did not know what to do. This is what is meant by transition. When an individual is faced with the fact that they no longer have a place in the Green Machine, when they realize that they no longer belong to the greatest Army in the history of mankind, it leaves you adrift, unrooted, and confused.

Serving in the US Army, working for the federal government, means that you serve something larger than yourself. We identify ourselves with what we do: "I am an airborne Ranger." Or, "I am a Green Beret." We do not think about this while we are doing it. It is only after we separate, after we can no longer do it, that the bill comes due, and we are confronted with an implacable metaphysical fact. 

"I am just Stephen." 

This is difficult to handle. Many handle it better than others. Some handle it poorly. I was one of those who mishandled transition. I wish that GallantFew was available to me in 1994. I stumbled through my own transition on my own with no resources, and little guidance. 

I talk about the years that I spent forging my identity as a soldier in Metamorphosis. I have not yet addressed my transition from soldier to civilian. That may come as I wrap up my final forecasted book, In the Valley of the Shadows: A Place of Smoke and Rivers Like Mirrors, projected for 2020. 

Karl is endlessly supportive of the books that I publish, and I am very grateful to him. 

If you are still serving in uniform, please donate to GallantFew, particularly if you are serving in the Ranger Regiment. 

If you are in mid-career or retired, please donate to Karl's nonprofit. You can google his organization's ratings, which will reveal that GallantFew is too small to be rated by Charity Navigator. But you will see that Karl has GallantFew on a straight path. 

Karl Monger and GallantFew focus on the transition from soldier to  civilian. Whether you separate to return to school or finally retire after 20 years in uniform, you will make that transition from soldier to civilian. 

I just met with members of the GallantFew network in Orlando, former airborne Rangers that get together for breakfast every month. Wonderful men. 

Excellent fathers. Good husbands. Fine examples for other civilians: superb sons of the Republic. 

These two interviews with Karl Monger are the only interviews that I have given since I was interviewed by the Military History Channel in 2005. 

I prefer to keep all this within the Ranger brotherhood. 

Please listen, comment, and share!

We thank you for your time and your mindshare. 

Doc T sends.