Medal of Honor Recipient's Top Transition Tips for Vets

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U.S. Army photo by Eboni L. Everson-Myart

Medal of Honor recipient Captain Florent Groberg knows a few things about overcoming adversity with Army grit. He also knows about getting out of the Army and transitioning to civilian life.

While deployed to Asadabad, Afghanistan, in February of 2012, Groberg led a security detail by foot tasked with protecting high ranking officers. As his formation approached the provincial governor's compound, Groberg noticed a man dressed in dark clothing flanking him on the left, walking backward, some 10 feet away. The man spun around and turned toward Groberg who simultaneously sprinted toward him and pushed him backward and farther from his detail. The suicide bomber detonated his bomb.

Groberg's decisive actions also caused the premature detonation of a second suicide bombers' explosive device, and he saved the lives of many men that day without a thought to his personal safety. But as a result of his actions, he sustained the loss of 45 to 50 percent of his left calf muscle with significant nerve damage, a blown eardrum, and a mild traumatic brain injury.

Photo courtesy of Florent Groberg

In 2016 he was awarded the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Honor, by President Barack Obama.

But even before that, Groberg had retired from the Army in 2015. He now works as the Chief of Staff at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"Nothing can be accomplished without teamwork," said Groberg. "I wouldn't be here without the incredible acts of my team."

Teamwork and the responsibility you have to your team is Groberg's secret to success. He says that building the right team and being a servant leader is key to a fulfilling career.

Even a Medal of Honor recipient needs a successful transition plan. What were his secrets? Here's his battle plan.

1. Come up with an action plan. Ask yourself: where do I want to live? what am I capable of doing? Make a list of all the things you enjoy and the things you don't enjoy and split it down the middle. Aim for doing something you love and enjoy rather than just accepting whatever is easy.

2. Network with other veterans who transitioned successfully. Do your research before approaching a mentor or asking for an informational interview. Ask lots and lots of questions. Be curious.

3. Your MOS is not necessarily your future. You have limitless opportunities. Don't limit yourself, you can literally do anything. "I'm the Chief of Staff for Boeing, yet I was an infantryman," says Groberg. "I don't have an engineering degree or a degree in human resources or an MBA, yet here I am."

4. Have integrity and show it. Work hard, even when no one is looking. And when you fail, take time to learn from those mistakes.

5. Look to help other veterans who are behind you. Get involved with other veterans and veterans groups. Pay it forward. Veterans have a responsibility to help other veterans. We are part of a brother and sisterhood and we owe it to each other to be there for each other.

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-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.

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