Join Florent Groberg for an in-depth discussion in this video Spencer Milo's story, part of Florent Groberg on Finding Your Purpose after Active Duty.
- A little bit about me, I grew up, was born in Seattle, Washington, spent four or five years of my life there, and then I moved to Sacramento, California area, so spent the vast majority of my childhood, my adolescence, and the years that you would formulate your inner self, who you are, who you would call your identity. So, a little bit about me, growing up, it was in a nice area, I had a good family, I don't want to say a good family but a strong family, supportive.
The community I grew up in I would say is a little bit sheltered. I think my parents did a good job of trying to make sure I wasn't too sheltered but at the same token, as a child, and as a parent now, you want to shelter your children a little bit, you want to make sure that they're not seeing as much negativity as there is in the world. So growing up I played sports, kind of did the typical thing, went to school, hung out with friends, very outgoing, very energetic, I guess you could say. The more people I was around kind of the better.
Knew that I always wanted to join the military at some point in my life. Both my grandparents served, my grandfather on my mother's side specifically, he was a World War II submariner in the Pacific, so I looked up to him like he was everything. Half the stories I think about that led me to the military start with him. So after high school, graduated, tried the college thing, I was not ready. I was still immature, I still thought that the world was at my feet and I could do whatever I wanted, it was not, and I found that out after a couple years.
So I got to the point where I was a little bit older, I think it was around 22, and I just realized if I don't join the military now, I probably never will. 9/11 had happened few years before that, that always just kind of really reinforced every thought that I had going forward that I wanted to join, and so when it came down to that timeline, I said, hey, I'm either going to continue doing these menial jobs, I'm not really going to be doing a whole lot, or I can go and do something. So I joined the military in 2006.
The family was supportive. At first they were a little bit concerned that I think like any family would be. I think most any of my friends at that point in time were probably scared to death for me because I was not what they would call the military type. I was a little bit rebellious, I had kind of my own points of view, but it was something I wanted to do. So I joined, I went to Fort Benning, Georgia, I joined as an airborne infantryman, and went through basic training, loved it. Went through airborne school, loved it. Got stationed out at Fort Bragg right after that North Carolina, which, to say the least, was a culture shuck.
You're coming from the West coast West coast and then you're going into North Carolina into Fayettenam so we call it, and it took some getting used to, but I was happy. Ended up getting deployed in 2007 to Iraq for a 16 month tour. Rattled my head pretty good in a vehicular accident there, hit my head on the 50-cal on the truck, kind of bruised some things, smashed some things, bottom line is being me I tried to tough it out.
I just thought that I could push through, had some issues, got home, went to the doc's to try and figure out what was going on, I wasn't sleeping, I was irritable, the whole mess, and came to find out that I actually had had a mass that had formed right about here in my brain and it was causing severe migraines, seizures, among other things. The doctor's originally thought that it was cancerous, gave me a six month terminal timeline, said hey, you're going to die in six months.
I was at the absolute prime of my life. I thought I knew who I was, I thought I knew what I was going to do, I had my whole life planned out. So to get that six month timeline, you kind of get it ripped out from under you and it rocks you to the core. I mean, you really have to sit there and figure out who you are at that point and who you want to be. So went through the medical system, ended up getting medicated to a near coma, I didn't really leave my bed much, I ended up gettin' up to almost 260 pounds. During that timeframe I ended up marrying my then current girlfriend who's my now wife because I figure if I'm going to die in six months, I know I want to be with you, I want to make sure we get married, I want to make sure you're taken care of.
Seven, eight months in, nine months into that the family kind of got tired of seeing me in a vegetative state more or less, and said hey, we need to get a second opinion. So I went to UC San Francisco Med Center and I was there for about three months, come to find out, yes that mass is there, and no it's not a cancerous tumor, no I'm not dying, no I don't have six months to live. As you can imagine I was elated by that news, it was pretty motivating news to get. So me being me, I honestly bs'd my way through the system to get back so I could go back doing what I wanted to do.
I went and got deployed again in 2010 to Afghanistan and luck so would have it that in January of 2011, in Afghanistan, a 15 year old suicide bomber decided to blow himself up 'about ten to 15 feet from me, so I went for a little ride, got some bumps and bruises, had some injuries, to say the least, another brain injury, and got sent home. And in between I'd say 2011 to 2013 I spent a decent amount of time up at Walter Reed, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, the treatment center there, and eventually end up having to medically retire in 2013, in July.
Kind of what led me to what I'm doing now currently with Hire Hero's USA is, as you can imagine, in the prime of my life, I get that ripped out from under me, then I get it given back, and then I get it ripped out from me again, and so to say that I was bitter was an understatement. I was very bitter. I was frustrated, I didn't really, I wanted to blame everything other than the things that really are out of my control, I always wanted to blame something else, I had to find a reason to cope, and so when it came to the transition I was not cooperative, I didn't want to go do the classes that I was supposed to do, I didn't want to go and figure things out.
I just kind of took my time and finally I had a platoonzar and said, hey, you need to do some of this stuff before you get out, period. It's not a choice. So he said there was an organization called Hire Heroes USA, they're coming to Fort Bragg, they're going to do a two day workshop on transition, you're going to go to that. Begrudgingly I said okay, fine, we'll go. So I went to this two day workshop and all cheese aside, it literally changed my life. I listened to the instructors, I went through this two day period, and it really helped open my eyes.
Hey, I can do one of two things, I can sit here and sit on my soap box and pout and play the oh poor me game and not move forward in my life or I can listen to what these people have to say, I can pick myself up and I can move forward. There's still purpose for me, there's still a way that I can give back even though I can't do it technically in the military anymore. So went through this workshop, the gentleman that was teaching me, his name's actually Ted, he's actually my boss right now which is kind of funny, I said, hey, my family, we want to move to Colorado, when I get close to getting out, when I get 60, 90 days out, is there a way that I can reach out to you and you can kind of help network me in to the community so I can start moving forward? He said of course, so 60, 90 days came up, I reached out to Ted and I said hey, do you remember me? He said, of course I remember you.
And I said, okay. And then said well, I'm coming to Colorado I'd really like to find some work and get moving. He said, well, it just so happens we're hiring in Colorado, you'd be the second person here. I can't guarantee anything but it's a pretty amazing mission, maybe you'd want to get behind it. I said, okay. I definitely did. So I applied. Here I am three years later. I started off as a VTS and now I'm an aeromanager for the Western regional headquarters so I can't really complain.
I've got a beautiful family, I got a four year old little girl, I've got a little boy that's on the way, he'll be here soon, and I feel like I got a pretty decent grasp on who I am and what I'm going to do for the rest of my life now.
Discover how to understand your strengths and value, where your skills fit into today's job market, and how to translate your experience into a solid resume. Learn how a mentor can help you navigate the transition and open up new opportunities. With Flo's advice, you can find a new purpose and continue the journey you started in the military—bringing your talents to bear on a whole new mission in life.
- Taking initiative
- Understanding your value
- Translating your experiences
- Building your resume
- Using a mentor
- Setting realistic expectations
- Building a network
- Transitioning into a new job
- Bonus videos featuring stories of transition from veterans