Military Civilian Transition (Part 2)

with Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University

National National

According to a recent Blue Star Families survey, with over 40,000 non-profits focused on serving veterans and their families, finding and accessing services is the most self-reported issue. Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University shares the importance of learning how to navigate through thousands of available services for veterans, to smooth the transition from military to civilian life. Click here for part 1 of Military Civilian Transition.

Interview recorded Oct 11, 2017.  Hosted by Robert Traynham.

Read a partial transcript of this interview below:

Robert Traynham: You said something else that I thought was fascinating and that was the other side of the coin is, it’s not just about the soldiers transiting to civilian life, it’s really, you didn’t say this but I heard this, it’s really about us [00:06:00] as civilians understanding their lives. So, this is a two-way street here.

Mike Haynie: Absolutely. So, one of the programs we run at Syracuse at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families is a program called America Serves. What we basically do is we go into communities and we help community service providers become culturally competent related to serving the military and veteran population. We help them essentially build shared networks of services [00:06:30] so veterans can be seamlessly referred from one organization that does, let’s say education, to another organization that may focus on career training and placement, because the extent to which we’re able to cultivate those kind of robust service networks in communities, I think is going to make all the difference for this generation of veterans, but it has to start with helping those who are not, I keep [00:07:00] using this term, culturally competent, but really understand the unique nature of military service and the implications that it has for post-service life.

Robert Traynham: Mike, are you a veteran?

Mike Haynie: I am a veteran.

Robert Traynham: Was is difficult for you to transition?

Mike Haynie: That is a … so, yes. In ways that it shouldn’t have been, though. I had every advantage as I was transitioning. I was fortunate that the Air Force, while I was in the military, had sent me off to school two separate times. [00:07:30] I had a degree before, or I had a job before I even made the transition, but when I made that transition, I felt lost. I think it was because I didn’t … they were very basic things. I was waiting for, I think, someone to tell me it was time to go to the doctor or the dentist because I was so used to a yellow slip of paper, “Hey, it’s time to go to the dentist.” When I did finally go to a doctor, [00:08:00] I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how to get a prescription filled.

Simple things like that, but more importantly I also missed deeply the sense of service that came from my military service, the sense of community and I was in an environment, in my case, a university, higher education, where there weren’t many folks that [00:08:30] shared that experience with me of military service, and what I found that it did, is it isolated me in ways that I didn’t even try to engage others, because I figured you won’t understand. You don’t have the … and that’s not anyone else’s fault. That’s on me and I think that’s part of how we have to focus on the veteran side of that coin we were talking about. We have to create bridges and [00:09:00] push a little bit in terms of our service members and veterans, push them into opportunities to bridge that civilian/military divide, but the bridge has to go both ways, I guess, is what we’re saying.

Robert Traynham: Fascinating conversation. We’ve spent almost 10 minutes having this conversation. I wish I could spend another 100 minutes with you as well. Thank you very much for all you do.

Mike Haynie: Thank you, I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Robert Traynham: And thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit Comcast Newsmakers.com. I’m Robert Traynham.