Vets On The Net

Episode 4: USO Stories

April 23, 2021 Flint Hills Veterans Coalition Season 1 Episode 4
Vets On The Net
Episode 4: USO Stories
Chapters
Vets On The Net
Episode 4: USO Stories
Apr 23, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
Flint Hills Veterans Coalition

Crystal Bryant-Kearns & Lauren Kovaleski join Veterans John Verschage, Vance Zimmer and Rodney Righter as they share memories of USO experiences while describing the USO transition services now available to help Soldiers successfully move into civilian life.

Join us at the table for a casual conversation with Veterans from all branches sharing stories, experience and laughs. Refreshingly apolitical.

This podcast is a product of the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition.  Visit our website, flinthillsveterans.org, for materials referenced in the podcast.  Thanks for listening!

Show Notes Transcript

Crystal Bryant-Kearns & Lauren Kovaleski join Veterans John Verschage, Vance Zimmer and Rodney Righter as they share memories of USO experiences while describing the USO transition services now available to help Soldiers successfully move into civilian life.

Join us at the table for a casual conversation with Veterans from all branches sharing stories, experience and laughs. Refreshingly apolitical.

This podcast is a product of the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition.  Visit our website, flinthillsveterans.org, for materials referenced in the podcast.  Thanks for listening!

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Welcome to Vets on the Net podcast, a product of the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition. We're gathered around the table today In America's Heartland to tell stories of the military experience, share, laugh, and just give our audience a glimpse into our military lives. So pull up a chair, join us for Episode Four USO stories supporting troops for 80 years. Joining us today we have John Versage ,Vance Zimmer. Righterter and Lauren Kovaleski uso team. Thanks for joining us today. Can I ask each of you to introduce yourselves? Tell us where you're from what branch of service and what was your job like in the military? JOHN, you want to kick it off?

John Versage:

Well, my name is John Versage. I'm originally from Hinesville, Georgia, did 29 years in the active army. And I'm of my 29 years I did 22 right here for Riley, Kansas. In my 22 years in the Army I did 9, 10 years as a signals communicator. And then the next 19 years I was a career counselor.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Nice Vance

Vance Zimmer:

My name is Vance. Zimmer. I'm originally from Iowa. Did 21 years in the Army, best MLS in the world 11 Bravo,

John Versage:

whatever.

Vance Zimmer:

They do a lot of different locations. Fort Campbell, Korea, Germany, Fort Benning a couple times and ended up here for the Kansas.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

We're so glad you did. Rodney

Rodney Righter:

I'm Rod. I'm from originally from Montana. 21 years in the Air Force. Spent a big chunk of that on Fort Riley enjoyed it and stayed. So

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

what do you do in the airforce?

Rodney Righter:

Oh, I'm sorry, I was an Air Force j tech. I spent my time hanging out with a lot of times the impeachment or the airborne, Yahoo's or, or so forth. But it was good time.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Well, we won't hold the air force against you. Well,

Rodney Righter:

I'm here to bring up the what is it the property value? Is that what I'm doing so you're

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

in a tough crowd today. All right, Lauren, you want to introduce yourself?

Lauren Kovaleski:

Yeah. Hey, everyone. I'm Lauren. I'm a military spouse. My husband is active duty army. We were our first duty station was Fort Riley, Kansas. We were raised Riley right. And we are now at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. And my job is to just hold down the fort. We've gone all the time. So this year hanging out.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

We love it. We love it. Well, my name is Crystal Kearns and I'm serving as the moderator for this episode. I'm originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I'm married to a veteran who served in the 82nd Airborne Division. I currently serve as the USO transitions manager, and I'm located here at the first Infantry Division, the home of the big red one. I'd like to thank our sponsor for today, j. s sign and also thank those in our studio audience who have joined us today. If you guys hear some noises in the background, we're going to blame them. It's all their fault. So Steve, keep it down over there. Okay. Alright, so today we're going to talk about the USO, also known as the United services organization. This year marks our 80th anniversary of our force behind the forces and to celebrate the eight decades of fearlessly following the US troops to the frontlines. We are going to talk a little bit about what the USO used to do and how we have adapted to today's Army, Air Force, Marines, navy and Coast Guard. We started out with six organizations the USO originally, and we are one of two who were still left. Do you guys know the other one? This I saw you in a time Red Cross. Good job foreign like that. So yeah, the USO began six separate groups, and us and the Red Cross are still standing. The uso is always taking care of troops. But we've also taken care of families, too. In fact, even daycare started with the USO back in the day, World War Two women were entering the workforce, they needed a place to drop off their kids. And lo and behold, the USO stepped up and started supporting military families. So originally, we were known mostly for our entertainment. Can you guys name our most favorite entertainer,

Vance Zimmer:

Bob? Heck, yeah.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Heck yeah. We love Bob Hope, and he left his legacy to us. And we are so grateful. And we continue his legacy through a Bob Hope reading program, which Have any of you ever used that service, the Bob Hope reading program. It's a great opportunity for service members to read books to their kids and interact To them, even though they're downrange, so that's a great program. But speaking about hope did Did any of you ever attend any shows while you were overseas?

John Versage:

I did. In Korea 1988 back in the mid 1900s.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Mid 1900's,

Lauren Kovaleski:

when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

John Versage:

know when when booking flow goes both ways. It was the back Summer Olympics in Korea, South Korea. Oh, oh, you had a lot of here. But uh, yeah, that's why I saw him I was like opening ceremonies type thing. And him and Brooke Shields were performing and it was awesome.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Nice Brooke Shields in the 80s What about you, Rodney? Oh.

Rodney Righter:

I usually didn't go to many of the shows when we were downrange. But what I did go to and a lot of people there was Kid Rock put on a big concert. And reason why I remember it is I was way back in the nosebleed section. But he had some guests. I think he brought some ladies on stage and they made a song and dance. I think some ladies ladies I know. A few of them when topless I guess they are real big hit. So of course I was so far back. But still I could tell

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

you don't strike me as the kid rock concert type of guy.

Rodney Righter:

No, I wasn't there. Nothing else to do. Might as well go.

Vance Zimmer:

So you have air guitar? air guitar.

Rodney Righter:

Yeah, I had to turn up the hearing aid just like you. Yeah.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

What about you, Vance, every

Vance Zimmer:

show I've never been to a uso show. All my deployments, it seems like our Ford operating bases or fobs are too far away from the bigger basis. Now they did have our last deployment to Afghanistan. They had some cheerleaders, wasn't it? The dolphins cheerleaders, dolphin cheerleaders actually came to our faab. I didn't see it. I was going but it was there.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Nice. Lauren, any uso shows, I guess as a spouse or events? No,

Lauren Kovaleski:

I've never I think Larry visited the base. My husband was out when he was deployed. So he got to experience that which is awesome. But now, I've never seen uso show. I've never even seen the show troupe perform. So hopefully they'll start touring again. I can catch them when they're in my region.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Let's hope so for sure. I know

John Versage:

guys nice can have for well the end of the USO tag he did performed on the airfield.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

And so did the Charlie Daniels band. I don't know if y'all remember that just few years ago,

Vance Zimmer:

was funny. I was watching flooded two channels yesterday at home and they had a thing on there about Robin Williams. Yeah. And it showed bits and pieces of his USO show. He's done. Yeah. So he was a big

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Yeah. He did a lot for the USO. What about airports? You guys ever visited a uso in the airport? Oh,

Vance Zimmer:

sure. Now, Dallas airport. I've been to that one a couple times. Because we fly back my rack. That was our layover before we fly into Kansas. So we always go to the USO at the Dallas airport.

Rodney Righter:

comfortable seats, hotdogs, coffee.

John Versage:

It's nice. I visit them in foreign lands. Oh, far away. Madness. Kuwait. wasn't lucky lucky enough to go to a Dallas airport. Wow.

Rodney Righter:

I'm gonna tear up over here as good

Vance Zimmer:

as you were a career counselor to you probably had a private flight.

John Versage:

Yeah. Well, maybe

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

there's airborne and chair born airborne and

John Versage:

I did get I did get from five sharada to Atlantis before anybody else did. And I was the last one to leave Toronto. I'm just saying.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

What was your favorite reason to go to the USO? JOHN, I've

John Versage:

heard this many a time computers, phones. Lasers call my wife.

Vance Zimmer:

TVs

Lauren Kovaleski:

TV air conditioning,

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

I thought it was

John Versage:

gonna get to the air conditioning. I mean, when you got that one thing, you come home and air conditioner feels so good. You fall asleep, though. So you got in there because you're gonna have 130 degree heat and you still have an air conditioner. You're just like, power goes to sleep.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

So Lauren, you have a unique experiences military spouse? Can you think of a uso experience that really stands out to you?

Lauren Kovaleski:

Yeah, well, I became a military spouse. And then about 30 days later, I was hired as a staff member of uso. So I didn't. I didn't really know much when I joined the team about the military at all. And, you know, I think just coming in as a little baby, how john really took took me under his wing and explained a lot about the military lifestyle, and just made me feel welcome as a military spouse, which I think is is just what the USO is all about. So for me, it's more about the team. And you know, the experience of serving the mission as a staff member. You know, versus like using using the center's when you get to a new installation.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

So what's unique about our group here today is not only are all of you veterans and male spouses, but you're also uso employees. So those of you in the audience might think of how the USO has entertained or united or delivered. But what many of you might not know is that the USO also offers transition support. And that's exactly what the team that is speaking today does on the day to day, so what is it like for you guys, specifically, Vance, Ronnie john, to serve those who, you know, you used to be a service member being served by the USO, but now you are serving as part of the USO? What's that experience? Like?

Rodney Righter:

Don't just keep going. I mean, you think about it, we, it's, it's a nice connection from what we did in the past to what we're actually doing right now. You know, we're all in CEOs, we all took care of people. So now it was an easy transition to now being in the USO and do the same thing.

Vance Zimmer:

Oh, for sure. I mean, it's almost like you're still in the army, but you're not doing PT and all the Mandatory Fun and stupid stuff that the army makes you do, you know, these

Rodney Righter:

formations, they count, you

Vance Zimmer:

know, your, your clients, or your soldiers that are under you, or that you take care of on a day to day basis. So you're still guiding them in the right directions, give them the answers that they're looking for, and help them out wherever they need.

John Versage:

I agree with all that. I mean, it's no other feeling to be able to give back and give forward to these young, proud American sons and daughters we have, and be able to take care of them. You know, not everybody, not everybody's gotten in the same business as a uso. So be able to give back to them and help them and and guide them, and in some cases, mentor them. I mean, they always ask you, how's it feel? after retirement? Do you miss the army? So it's hard to miss the army when we're dealing with soldiers every day? You know, I never felt like I feel like I never left.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Absolutely. So let's talk about that. You know, Lauren talked about her experience joining the USO team, she was brand new to the military brand new to the little apple coming straight from the Big Apple, as we like to say, how did you guys start with the USO?

John Versage:

Well, I applied for your position. That's,

Rodney Righter:

boy, we're happy how that worked out. Right.

Lauren Kovaleski:

sure that

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

that is, that is a true story. The day that I got the job, they said, Now you need to hire a team member. And I said, well, who was going to get this job if I didn't get this job? And they said, john for sage. So I called him up and said, Hey, you want to be my scout? He was like, yeah, so I said, well, you need to apply for the job.

John Versage:

After you already hired me at apply for the job a little backwards. A little formalities.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

You know, all the HR paperwork. Yeah.

John Versage:

I didn't know how will that worked anyway, so I like to in the army. Hey, you're moving over to Bravo Company. Okay. You know, so it works. You know,

Lauren Kovaleski:

I think it is important to note that john was on the golf course on terminal leave, and his wife Trish was applying for jobs for him. Oh, while he was on the golf course. That is a true statement and that that's a true meltdown. Right there. Right? She's Hey, man. You're not gonna be hanging out with my house. I want you know,

John Versage:

drinking beer and playing golf. My phone slitter ringing is like thank you for applying for was thank you for applying for a position. I'm like I apply for that big position.

Lauren Kovaleski:

True mil spouse.

John Versage:

Yeah, that's true story.

Vance Zimmer:

It's funny.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

I just want to give a quick shout out to Chris for stage. God bless your soul. Like, as Service Medal. Yeah. How about you, Vance? Oh,

Vance Zimmer:

this is kind of a different story. I was at John's house watching Alabama and somebody won the national championship. It's always Alabama. But anyway, so we're at John's I was watching the football bowtie. And prosto was there as well. And I introduced myself to Krystal and I heard the position was open and for she left I was like, don't forget this face. You got to hire me. And next thing you know, I applied and I got an interview.

John Versage:

Think your exact words words. Lance Zimmer, don't forget it.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Thats your exact words. Lance Zimmer, Don't forget it might have been. Well, yeah. It worked out well. He did great in his interview. Thanks somebody set you up for success. Maybe that guy sitting next to you

John Versage:

told you to stare at her eyes.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Eye contact so important in interviews, right? It's kind of creepy. Actually. No blanket got the job. You got the job. What about you, Rodney?

Rodney Righter:

Well, I've been working in the area for Department of Commerce for quite a while and helping soldiers and news I knew the E folks with uso for quite a few years. And and I guess what it came down to the point I was trying to help crystals asking if I knew someone in Peru or an opening that was created that if I knew anybody, and I tried to hook her lady from our shop, and then dawned on me, what what was I doing? So I applied for the job too. So and I was happy and, and I also it was nice, because I idea that the USO was still open during COVID, which is, the last thing I want to do is continue to work from home. And that was not what I wanted. So as you will, folks, we're dealing with people still in person with assault as COVID stuff going on. That was a real kicker. So yeah, I was happy to fly.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Yeah, I think we stayed at home for about a month and a half. And then we all decided there's Joe's still getting out, they need support. So let's figure out how we can make this work. So we set up safety precautions, and the garrison cleared us for a certain number of people within a certain distance wearing masks. And so we went back to work in May, which was great. And we've been serving ever since. So for those of you who don't know uso transitions, support servicemembers, and military spouses, as well as our garden reserve folks in transition, so whether they are looking for their future careers, their future homes, they might need a financial readiness resource, whatever their needs are, we try to help meet their needs, where they are. So along those lines, let's talk about some of the experiences where you have put yourself back into your boots, so to speak of when you were young Joe, and and how that helped you leverage the experience of helping others. Anybody want to take that one?

Vance Zimmer:

Well, I think the biggest thing that I see almost on a daily basis is how do I fill out a da 31? For terminal leave? When do I submit my da 31? Who's your proven authority of my da 31? Things like that. I mean, reasonably, it seems like I have a lot of junior in CEOs that are part of the chain of command or that transitioning service member will call and ask me questions. And these are questions they should know. So yeah, kind of put that hat back on and got him on the right path.

Unknown:

I agree.

Lauren Kovaleski:

I think the biggest thing is that the transition is so stressful. And a lot of it, like we said, is the garrison aspect of clearing and what does that look like and what does my timeline need to be, and for a lot of them, they can't start thinking about employment or education or their pa benefits until they feel like they're good to go on the clearing process. And that was so interesting to to watch kind of evolve from, you know, when we opened our doors to now in navigating and being able to organically figure out what they needed, so that they could be successful. And it's just so interesting to to be able to figure out what they need, and then pre create that process for them and help them through it. And then they just are able to do all these great things like participate in training programs and get really great jobs and, you know, move their families across the country and feel settled. And they wouldn't be able to do that if the team here wasn't, you know, coaching them along the way on those things that seem so simple, but they're they're really not. They're intense, and it's very, very stressful for them

Vance Zimmer:

is very daunting. And john hits on this every time he does a briefing that you're getting out of the army. Now you go from the team to the B team. Nobody Nobody cares. Yeah, that's true. Now the army because missions always first in the army, whether it's, you know, unit drag gunnery, rotation NTC or Fort Polk or Europe.

Rodney Righter:

And it's funny to talk about that. You know how many times we've been to briefs and everybody's going to actually bring it up and I've actually the Mall Cop thing, but it really comes down to there's a lot of doom and gloom. Every time you go to these briefings and sois you better listen to this. You're going to be poor, you're going to be on the street, you can be homeless, you're going to have a job. And this Yeah, there's elements of that. But soldiers and service members will land on their feet if they want to land on their feet and they always do. They just need to be Given the right direction, so in a way, all we're doing is shorten that chain to their success. Because it isn't all doom and gloom. They just need to know what they need to know. And once they find this information out, which is relevant to them, they do find, you know, people stand in front of them and tell them how bad it's going to be. That's when that's their own personal story, but more of not many of them do very, very well.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

They do. Do you guys have a favorite story? Someone that really spoke to you someone that you helped out? Oh, wow, I

John Versage:

got so many stories. I mean, what? We had a cut, well, I got a couple. One on One soldier. I'm not gonna say his name. But he, he was in Oakland, while I was on the golf course. Like, he called me and he's like, hey, john, I need some help. And I'm like, what's going on? He goes, I'm going to church by day crackhouse by night, and I'm afraid to take my shoes off because someone I still. And this is a guy that went down range for his country. Now he's in the church, homeless shelter, and he's, he's stressed about what he's going to do. So we reached out, actually, Lauren, was it was your Lauren, right? ss ssvf. In the washing army. Yeah, they're the one that we contacted wasn't even in his region, but they reached out to them, and got him a place to live, got to help them get his first month's rent, and they took care of them. And then I reached out to him a few months later, and he was going to college, in California Community College. And then I reached out again, a few months later, just to check on see how he's doing. And he was playing, you know, college football, Division Two. So, I mean, it was a success story for him now. And he's doing great things out there in the civilian world. He's got a house, got a fiance, and it's a success story coming from living in a in a, you know, halfway house, I guess, you know,

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

he just needed a little bit of help.

John Versage:

He just need a little bit of guidance. That's all you needed. Oh, another case we had was a soldier came to sauce. This is one of our very first cases, he came and saw us and he's like, you know, I'm already set up. I went to the MBB. board. I'm already set up. No one. I don't need no help. But my wife is my caregiver if she has no clue what she's about to get herself into. So we reached out to some air once again was Lauren reached out to Arizona. And she was just new on the job. And she was like research and everything. So she found a caregiver group in Arizona, that helps with spouses. So we linked them up. And then a few months later, I called him and I wouldn't get an answer from him. And then I emailed him still no answer. And then eventually, he moneybags I, hey, john, I didn't mean to blow you off or anything like that. It's just that I fell off the bed, hit my head on the nightstand. And I had a seizure, and I was in a coma. And he's wanting to thank us because the resources we gave his spouse in Arizona, was able to help his spouse, make it through that tough time and understand everything. So those are kind of stories that the chain of command doesn't know. When he suffered servicemembers get out of the army. They just they just slide to the left and, and just keep on driving on the mission, like Vance said, but there's the soldiers doing so much more after they get out of the military. I'm in touch with one it's in Houston, Texas all the time. He walked into a store. And he was in a mall. And he was wearing one ID gear. And one of the individuals walked up to him say, Hey, what do you have for rally? And he was like, yeah, it was a four rally. And he's like, hey, my son's out there. He's having a rough time. So he said, Okay, so he started talking. Come to find out. This individual calls me and says, Hey, john, I met this this gentleman at the store. His son is stationed at Fort Riley. Well, little Do we know that his son was also in our program. So I called and checked on him, kept checking on him, drove by his house and checked on him. And then his dad called me, and he was worried about his son because his son was too prideful to ask for help. But he was going through depression and everything else that he didn't know how to. How to ask for help. So I stay in touch with him, stay in touch with him. Right now. He's doing good. He's still struggling, but he's got a job now. He does have some resources. That's all it was just recently, just the fact that you call someone and say, Hey, how you doing? You know, you don't realize how much you know, little those little words mean to somebody, you know, how are you doing? What can I do for you? So those are just three stories right there alone. I can go on for days. I get phone calls all the time for people driving a bf truck and like bragging about how much money they're making. We are one of the Five that went on. He was in our program with our help with a resume and our our employment readiness workshops. He landed a job with Amazon out of Kansas City and then he moved on to Michigan making six figures making six figures from a sergeant pay to six figures. That's that's a big swings a big Remember him? Yes, yes. One

Lauren Kovaleski:

of the first people we had go for the h o h. fellowship. Yep.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Yeah, for Leavenworth? Yep. Yeah.

Lauren Kovaleski:

Yeah.

John Versage:

We got stories after stories. I probably forgot half the stories. You know, it's just,

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

what about you? Vance, you got some stories? Oh, sure.

Vance Zimmer:

I think this guy was a staff sergeant. He came back from Korea early. Because his wife had left. You remember that? They had three kids, his wife.

Lauren Kovaleski:

I remember that to0

Vance Zimmer:

something. I don't remember what exactly happened anyway, they sent him back and they're gonna kick him out of the army because now he doesn't have a family care plan. We ended up getting a solid resume through hire heroes and through abroad. He was working at Kansas works at the time. And we ended up getting him a job interview at skookum on post. And he's been there ever since. So go on. He's pretty up there in management right now. Matter of fact, I ran into him a couple weeks ago. And while amigo he's remarried and lives in St. Mary's, that's awesome. All right, well,

Rodney Righter:

good. I got an individual that I've been keeping tabs with. Senior NCO that has struggled when he's getting out because he's not only battling getting out, he's also battling cancer, he's going through chemotherapy. And his biggest worry was building a resume, what should he tell employers about a situation where you shouldn't let in. So honestly, what we normally do is we try to make this nice handoff, I walked him upstairs, introduced him to Kansas works guy up there. And, and because of that, he walked him through building a resume there any of you preparation, and this, this gentleman has done very well. He's got interview after interview. And finally, he picked up a job with the university. I think this starting pays like 80 $90,000 doing really well. But it's for him to sit there and say, Well, I can't do the interview. Now I'm going through chemotherapy, I'm gonna have to catch it next week or do this. It's just that he had connections with people who, you know, within this organization,

John Versage:

among where I remember when Lauren had, he wanted to be an oncologist. He wanted to be a cancer doctor, and want to go see me on colleges. And he was like, what's that? And it was, we're all like shaking our heads like, oh, but now he's a nurse, right? Going to nursing school.

Lauren Kovaleski:

Yes, he's gone to nursing school. I haven't talked to him in a while. That was a couple years ago. But yeah, he got accepted to a really great two in two nursing programs, who's going to do his first two years at a community college and then automatically transfer in and finish out with his rn? But yeah, he came in saying you want to be a cancer doctor to learning, oncology, or to lick in a first ID to getting into nursing school, you know, and it's just, they're funny, I mean, they kill me, the soldiers espouses all ranks, all backgrounds, they are funny. People just like, but the best thing, just like people, right, but the best thing is just to see them be successful in all different ways, right? You know, we're talking about trucking to going back to school to, you know, working their way up into management, and they're just so unique. And it's awesome to see them go from this, like, stress, you know, their end of their office, and they're talking a mile a minute, and they have no direction to you know, they just kind of find their way. And they just need a little bit of guidance. And, and Rodney, you put it really well, right, there's a lot of negativity and like pressure and kind of Nxd around transition. And they just need a little guidance and some support to know like, you're gonna be fine. Here's the tools that you need. You know, you've got a good head on your shoulder, get them done, and we're here to keep up with you and communicate with you. And check in when, you know, it gets tough again, because it will that's just life. But it's just letting them know that we're here to support them and, you know, continue to guide them on their way.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

So what's interesting is, this program takes you like, for example, this service member who wanted to be a cancer doctor that didn't even know what an oncologist was. What we do is we help them build the plan so that they will achieve their goal no matter what their goal is, and then we just walk them through each step one step at a time. This is what you need to do. This is the process you need to apply for school. Let's look at the school. So let's find out what your GI Bill covers, let's find out the difference between the California School, right and the Kentucky school, right, or whatever it might be. And so, you know, nobody else is really doing that note, nobody else is really helping them as they are in transition as they leave the service service members come in, and when we start breaking it down for them, how much housing costs, how much health insurance cost, how, hey, you actually have a really good opportunity to stay in the military. How many of them do re enlist?

Rodney Righter:

It's cyclical, I think you're gonna see a change back and forth a few different times. But surely,

Vance Zimmer:

I mean, if you look at history, it's it's repeating itself. Same thing happened for Vietnam, you know, people come back from Vietnam, or they don't know how to operate gears and environment, you know. And then, you know, we didn't really do much of anything for quite a long time until iraq started making sure we had our Grenada and things like that. But as far as long term war, it was the warrant terrorism. So

Rodney Righter:

it was a long time ago. But back when you were there, john, right.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Back in Vietnam, you know, john doe, right

Rodney Righter:

on tablets. Okay, that

John Versage:

sense of I'll go back to the desert storm. Okay. All right.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

He's old, he but he's not that old. You know what that reminds me of though. Is it? Speaking of feeling old? Do you remember the time we were, we were accused of being Lauren's mom and dad. Speaking of being old, and I'm not that much older than you, Lauren. Dang, it.

Lauren Kovaleski:

faulted

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

that was George good old George.

Lauren Kovaleski:

George. Yep, that was a client up. I was the coordinator at the time. But when you walked into the office office, it was kind of me and, and john was had a private office and crystal did as well. And he, he just was like, you know, are john and crystal, your mom and dad. Like, that's how you got this job, right? And I was just so insulted back, that I couldn't get the job on my own merit. And then john and john and Krystal, were insulted because they're not that old nurse. And my name is

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

even though john is my work wife, right?

Lauren Kovaleski:

Like, can we not?

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

I know poor George. Well, you set him straight. Lauren. That was good.

Lauren Kovaleski:

I did. I got a little like, snarky with him. It's good. He needed to learn that lesson.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Okay. So Lauren, do you have any stories off the top of your head that really have stuck with you? Over the years? No, I

Lauren Kovaleski:

mean, I mean, the story that john shared about the caregiver, you know, that within the first maybe month, maybe, maybe even less than that. And that just made such an impact on my life. And I think, you know, we do a lot of research right in our job, and it comes so naturally to us, because we know that it's making an impact, right, just like finding a phone number, and connecting that individual to a service member or a spouse and, and making sure that there's that warm connection. Just makes all the difference. So I don't have I don't want to repeat the story. But you know, there's hundreds on top of those that are really meaningful and give our jobs so much more than just a job.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

In fact, there's about 5000 of them just at Fort Riley since we opened our doors. Yeah. And Lauren

Lauren Kovaleski:

40,000 for the program.

Crystal Bryant-Kearns:

Yep. And Lauren's at Campbell now, so she gets to serve the Fort Campbell region, Tennessee and Kentucky. She sees a lot of the same stuff, but also different. I think each installation is unique.

Lauren Kovaleski:

Definitely, I mean, the the transition for me going from, you know, one installation to the next, and seeing all the differences. There's a lot of similarities to that sometimes annoy me because I wish you know, the Army or the military could could change ways sometimes. Where you know, there's there was a lot of change for me, PCs saying and getting used to a different area, a different, you know, region of the country and, you know, learning just all of all of them The things that come with moving. And it was nice to know that I had the USO to go with and to feel supported by.

Unknown:

So you bring up a good point, the USO is always by your side. And as a military spouse, we serve you in all transitions. So as we all know, as spouses, we have to recreate ourselves each time we move. And so our program is available to most spouses anytime throughout your journey. And if you guys who are listening are interested in our program, you can always check us out online, you can also register with us online. We're located at uso dot o RG forward slash transition, you simply have to click on the tab that says connect with the transition specialist today, and will contact you within a couple hours of registering. So if there are veterans who are out there who are less than 12 months post transition, that's really the window that we support service members and veterans is 12 months pre transition all the way up to 12 months post transition. However, we've started dabbling in supporting service members throughout their journey because we found that they might need help with mentorship or with networking. You know, I might not be getting out for another five years, but I might want a mentor or I might want a financial readiness resource. So be sure to check us out. We're always here to help you. And then also for guard and reserve. We support guardand reserve anytime throughout your career as well. All right, so I want to thank you all for coming today. We'll meet again on Vet's on the Net very soon. If you like what you heard today, please don't forget to subscribe to our podcast. I'd like to take another moment to thank our podcast sponsor for today JS Signs, longtime financial supporter of the Flint Hills veterans coalition. Thank you. Please be sure to visit our website at FlintHillsveterans.org. For more information about today's topic, and to share your very own uso story we love to hear. While you're there, check out our monthly meeting times. We'd love to have you join us if you're ever in the Flint Hills from the Flint Hills veterans coalition. Thanks for listening. We look forward to seeing you