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Jeffrey Backus - Signed Articles of Agreement January 9, 2009, 8th Learner

United States Marine Corps

This is my beginning to My Life, My Lineage, My First Paperback Book. I invite you to read my journey as I compose each chapter of the 14 Level Reintegration Program. My success is your success and our community's success. Thank you for your courage and support. To post comments you must register with our community. You can view this outline  I am using to map out my progess. Thank you for your comments, I value them.

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  • Tuesday, November 15, 2011 20:23 | Jeffrey Backus

    Once again, 6 months have managed to evaporate between my thoughts.  Not much has changed though, my trees are overgrown, the veggie garden is full of weeds and my projects have stalled. 

    At the end of November 2011, it will be three years since my retirement from active duty. It doesn't feel like three years, more like nine months or so. On the bright side, I'm three years closer to moving on to my next life adventure.

    Apparently, another one of Al's prophecy's has become reality.  Shortly after I started my hiring process, Al talked to me about going in another direction.  He told me that my job would consume most of my time and that my contributions here would be much less.  I replied that I did not think that would happen, but it did. 

    As of 15 November 2011, there are approximately 93 learners in Eleven states.  Most of us have posted at least one time, a few more have posted two or three times and another few have posted regularly (irregularly in my case).  I have crossed paths with a few of my fellow learners on rare occasions.  The Boothe's, Ms Price  and of course Ms Grice.  I have been neglecting my duty to encourage my fellow learners to write and hope that I will do a better job of it in 2012.      

    Please spend a few minutes and bang out a paragraph or two on your own blogs, and maybe make a few short comments on the others while you are logged on.



  • Wednesday, May 25, 2011 11:35 | Jeffrey Backus

    Once again, I cannot believe how fast the time is going by.  In the past several months, I managed to get promoted to GS-08, Police Field Training Officer (FTO) and bought a house in Colorado.  The 4/10 shift experiment did not end well, so we are back on the 12 hour shifts with the average shift being 14 hours.  On the bright side, I am on the day shift, so the ongoing tiredness has worn off, somewhat.  As a Police FTO, I now spend most of my work days patrolling the Base.   I haven't had a trainee for a few months since the Department is in a hiring freeze. 

    Colorado:  My Wife and I intend on settling in Colorado either when I can get a job there or after I retire.  Our "new" house is in Loveland, CO and is a ranch style with a finished walkout basement.  There is room in the front yard for a nice sized work shop and the back yard is big enough for our dog.


  • Tuesday, June 01, 2010 09:02 | Jeffrey Backus

    After reviewing my Goals in life, I realize that they are not going to be very difficult to attain.  Most of my goals will come to fruition just by me remaining alive for a few more years.  I only have five more years until I reach my retirement goal.  I will then have four or five years use my post 9-1-1 GI bill education benefits to complete a college degree. 

    Five years.  This might seem to be a long time to some people.  Time for me has been going by faster as I get older.  It seems like i rarely have any time to get anything meaningful accomplished.  My job keeps me tired most of the time, since I am on the night shift, but it also makes the weeks and months evaporate quickly. 

    College Degree.  Once again, this goal will be accomplished in it's time.  Of course, I will have to apply myself to complete the course work.  Current VA rules require that students be enrolled in full time classroom courses.  I'm not sure how many classes i'll need to take during each quarter/semester ect.  I am sure that it will be more than a few, since I will only have 3 years to finish.  I do have some education credits that will take a small bite out of the many that I will need though. 

    Small Business.  The more I evaluate this dream the less desirable it becomes.  There are many obstacles to overcome, and not much benefit.  I fear that my hobby that I enjoy will be impacted if I am required to work at it too much.  For instance;  I enjoy doing yard work.  Since there isnt "enough" (a facetious statement-as I have more than enough) work to accomplish in my yard, I have been working at the Fallbrook Oddfellows Cemetary.  The manager of the cemetary talks about hiring a landscaper to keep the weeds and grass cut down, even though I volunteer to do it.  I thought about letting him pay me, but then it becomes a JOB that I have to do, rather than a hobby that I enjoy doing.  I figure that once I get settled into "retirement" I will be able to spend more time on my old truck hobby.  I'm sure that I will meet other folks with similiar interests who need someone to help with a project.  I can use that interest to build a small business using the barter system. 

    I enjoy reading and own a "few" books.  When I'm out and about and see a used book store, I almost always go inside for a look around.  I then leave with at least one addition to my library.  I've thought about renting a small shop where I can pursue my hobby of rodstorating old trucks (and cars for that matter).  I could have a used book store up front and maybe a Wi-Fi to draw in a few folks.  Of course, I'd have to attend numerous estate sales, yard sales and swap meets to have enough inventory to make it a worthwhile enterprise.  I might be able to convince folks that have a vintage vehicle to bring it over when they need a part installed.  I think this is all a pipe dream though, since I am sure that there are numerous environmental and bureaucratic roadblocks.



  • Tuesday, December 22, 2009 22:16 | Jeffrey Backus

         Goals, why do I need goals?  I'm pretty much set in my ways, and other than the bank owning about half of my house, I don't have much debt to speak of.  It took quite a bit of thought to figure out that even though I don't really need to have distinct goals, I do have them. 

          I want to retire at age 55 or so, depending on what is going on at that time.  I could "retire" right now, but that would mean an immediate move to a less expensive area of the USofA (probably Colorado, to be near the Wife's daughter).  With the economy and housing market being so bad, we would lose too much cash money on our house.  I want to retire with minimal if any debt, so we need to make a few dollars when we sell our current property.  I have the means and opportunity to complete a college degree, but maybe not the desire to spend three years sitting in classrooms.   I want to finish my project truck, but then I would have to get something else to work on. 

         My immediate goals are to get through each day without getting in trouble.  I am able to accomplish this goal on rare occasions.   On a weekly basis, I attempt to complete my chores around the house.   I even sneak out to the garage and work on my project truck, a 1937 International pickup.  I would like to finish this vehicle before I retire, but the main obstacle is a lack of funding and higher priority chores.  I make headway by "nickle and diming" it a part at a time and by doing work that only requires my time. 

         I am also exploring and developing my income streams.  My main income is my Military retirement that is augmented by my Veterans Administration (VA) disability rating.  They are not enough for me to maintain the lifestyle that I had become accustomed to.  I am now employed as a Federal Police Officer at Camp Pendleton, California, where I make enough to bridge the gap between my retirement pay and my fiscal requirements.  There are other benefits associated with my VA disability rating that I will take advantage of in the future.  I am also making a small pre-tax monthly contribution from my job to a U.S. Government Thrift Savings Plan that has some matching contributions.  My final income stream will be Social Security (assuming the program continues to be funded).  I am hoping that it will be enough to pay for my long term medical care insurance and any medical needs that my wife and I might have.  On the bright side, my financial advisor (My Wife), says we will be fairly comfortable after I am fully retired.  Of course, we will probably have to move to a less expensive state as mentioned above. 

         I am fortunate to have earned a 36 month college program called the Post 911 GI Bill.  The program will pay for the majority of my college fees along with a monthly housing allowance as long as I am a full time student.  I am not sure what type of degree that I will pursue, but I am leaning towards something like "Advanced Basket Weaving"?  All of these income streams will eventually lead to my being mostly debt free.  I know I will have real estate and income taxes, health care and basic living expenses.  We will also need to occasionally purchase new(er) vehicles as our current vehicles expire. 

         I do have a dream of operating a classic automobile repair business after my retirement from working a regular job.  It will be something along the lines of performing minor repairs and installing parts on other folks classic vehicles.  I don't think that I would charge a premium for my labor, since I enjoy working on old vehicles.  I feel that I could develop this into a profitable business with a bit of focus and advertising.  I could also outfit a truck and make house calls.  This would reduce the overhead down to maintenance of the truck rather than paying the costs for a shop.  The initial start-up costs would be about the same;  I would need to build and outfit a small shop OR buy a large truck and outfit it with the tools of the trade.  In the long run, the mobile business would probably be more economical, since I would not NEED a huge shop, even though I will probably have one anyway.

  • Monday, December 21, 2009 18:34 | Jeffrey Backus

    (1 June 2010)  Another six months gone!!  Not much new has happened, life goes on.  The night shift has really been wearing on me.  There is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, but it also involves a 30% pay cut due to a work schedule change that is in the works.  It appears that we will be moving to a 4/10 shift vice the 12 hour shift we are currently on.  This means i'll be at work less each day, but working one additional day every two weeks.  The 30% pay cut is the assumed loss of over time.  Oh well, I can deal with this.

    (21 December 2009)  I didnt realize that it's been 6 months since i posted anything here!!!  Please forgive me.  I figured that after I got on shift that I would have lots of extra time.  I was mistaken.  Al told me I wouldn't have the time nor the focus to contribute to the cause.  My shift recently moved to nights, I work from 1600 (4pm) until 0400 (4am) but usually get released around 0600.  I then spend the next 6 hours trying to sleep.  I often feel like i'm terminally jet lagged, especially the day after a three day work weekend.  Other than work, I spend the rest of my time trying to keep up with my yard work and on rare occasions messing with my project truck. 

    (11 Jun 09) Hello again and welcome aboard to all the new folks.  Not much new going on in my corner of Fallbrook, except I did get my VA disability rating after a short 6 months!  I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy the process was.  Of course I must thank the DAV for their assistance! 

    I've only got 3 more weeks of school, and I'll be on a full time shift!  I'll probably miss the good old lazy daze tho after I get assigned to a gate for 12 hours!

    (8 April 09) Hello all, I have been busy the past few weeks with my new job as a Marine Corps Police Officer at Camp Pendleton and have not been reading or posting as much as before when I was "retired".   I am also torn between my obligations at my new job and with this organization.  I have a lot of learning to do so that I can accomplish my new mission along with some promises that I have made to the Fallbrook SouthWest Veterans Business Resource Center.   I have also been somewhat discouraged by the difficulties that I have encountered trying to convince folks that they should at least register on this site.  I feel that my approach must be wrong, and I am pushing them away, rather than drawing them in.   I will push on, Failure is not an option.


  • Friday, June 12, 2009 21:41 | Jeffrey Backus

    “What are you going to do when you get out?”  This is the most asked question during my transition period.  It is also a very stressful question when you are a person such as myself who wasn’t totally prepared to step right into another job.  I assumed that people would be knocking my door down to hire me, which hasn’t been the case.  I do have several job/career options available due to my experience and training.

    Mechanic/Technician:  The industry that I have the most experience in is the repair and maintenance of equipment.  I am school trained as a Tank Mechanic, Turret Mechanic and Light Armored Vehicle Mechanic.  I have also had the opportunity to work on and around a variety of other equipment types and at all levels of maintenance.  Even though I am not formally trained, I am also capable of performing most mechanical repairs on automobiles and trucks.  I invested significant time and money into attaining ASE Master Certifications in both of those fields along with several bus repair certifications.   As I previously stated, my technical skills are somewhat dated, I have found that many of the facilities now use advanced computer automated test equipment.  I am certain that I am fully capable of learning how to properly use this sort of equipment through “on-the-job” training.   Convincing the person who needs his equipment repaired to hire a mechanic that needs to be trained is another story.   There are many different repair venues that I am capable of performing in, although, some require additional training and/or certification.  A significant investment in tools and equipment would be required up front.  While I do possess more than a basic set of tools, I would still need to acquire a much larger tool box and several specialized items.  If I decide to enter a different industry, I will still use the new tools, equipment and tool box in my home shop.   I’ll discuss each option that is available to me.

    Chain repair shop mechanic/technician:  There are numerous positions available at any given time.  The starting pay is somewhat lower than my basic requirement, but if the shop offers commission work, then this option would be very workable.  There is good job security at the moment since the economy is forcing people to have their older cars repaired, vice buying a new one.  This option would be good for a part time job.

    Dealership repair shop mechanic/technician:  Again, there are typically several positions available.  The pay is higher, but the expectations are also higher.  It would be much more difficult for me to perform to the standard they expect from the beginning.  Stable working hours and decent pay are positives in this option.  A mechanic/technician would also be able to specialize in a single vehicle make, vice having to learn many different makes.

    Privately owned repair shop mechanic/technician:  A shop with a good reputation and solid customer base would be required for this option.  Again, with the added repairs people are having done to their older vehicles adds to the job security.

    Smog technician:  California requires that smog test techs be trained and certified.  At the moment, I would be required to invest in a couple of classes to gain the California certification and also pass the ASE “L1” test.  I would need to take a preparation class and study for this test, as I’ve attempted it a few times and was not able to pass.  The pay and job security are top notch, due to the California smog reduction requirements.  A technician with the capability to diagnose and repair smog related defects can certainly make a decent wage.  This would require me to take numerous classes and obtain sophisticated test equipment (ie.. expensive).

    School or transit Bus mechanic/technician:  There is a School Bus barn around the corner from my residence.  I would enjoy working there, as it is close to home and is a very small operation.  One problem there is that the work is contracted to a large repair corporation, so the job security would not be as firm as other places.  This type of work would be physically taxing, as much of the work involves heavy lifting, bending, reaching and applying high torque specifications.  I feel that I would struggle to keep up in a heavy work environment, but would soon develop the required techniques to ease the work load.

    Home based or mobile Classic Auto repair business:  Repairing classic automobiles in this area is a very lucrative enterprise.  There are a couple of shops in town that have a significant  per hour charge.  They have overhead requirements that a home based business would not have, such as rent.  Business licenses and insurance are required for all legitimate businesses.  I feel that I would have to market my business as “Mobile”, due to neighborhood zoning restrictions and the need to keep my neighbors happy.    I will discuss this option in detail in a later chapter.

    Law Enforcement:  I have a strong desire to be a Law Enforcement Officer even though I have no formal training or experience in this field.  This option would be a natural follow on career for me due to the similarities between them, such as uniforms, weapons, structured environment, rank and such.   The pay and job security are good.  I have applied at several of the local Law Enforcement agencies with mostly good results other than the economy slowing the hiring quite a bit.  A typical hiring process begins with the agency advertising the positions and test dates.  Some agencies require that you pre-register and have an invitation, others just tell you where and when to show up.  A pre-screening questionnaire is required by most agencies, they ask you all sorts of questions concerning past crimes, drug use and behavior.  A police officer candidate must pass a written test consisting of observation skills, reading and comprehension.  Then a physical agility test typically consisting of a short sprint, an obstacle course, scaling a 6 foot wall and or fence, dragging a 140 to 165 pound dummy about 10 yards and a run between 500 yards and 1.5 miles is administered.  Many agencies require that candidates go in front of an interview panel typically consisting of a senior police officer, a human resources person and a community representative.  These processes are used to whittle down the applicants to a manageable number of candidates that meet all the basic requirements.  Each candidate then is required to fill out a background questionnaire that asks if you have done any of a number of activities.  The questions range from “Have you ever stolen anything in your life?” to the most disgusting sexual acts imaginable.  The candidate MUST answer the questions truthfully, because this questionnaire is used as the basis for your polygraph test.  A Law Enforcement Officer must be completely trustworthy and be able to convince the background investigator and polygraph technician that you are telling the truth, no matter how embarrassing the question might be.  The polygraph tests are extremely stressful to me, I wasn’t able to sleep much during the days before each test.  I don’t know why I stressed so much as I don’t have anything to hide and I disclosed all the awful things I did as a youngster.  (For what it’s worth, I did pass both polygraph tests that I was assigned).  During the background process, an average of 30 pages of information is required to be filled out.  You will need to provide all of your immediate families names, home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, ten personal/business references, your previous addresses, schools and all of your previous jobs.  California has a standard form available on-line, but each agency feels the need to modify the form to fit their needs.  After all of this is completed,  psychological and medical evaluations are conducted.  Candidates that get through all of these wickets are then interviewed by the Police Chief before being offered a position.  Candidates that have previously completed the Police Academy are ahead of the ball game, as that means the agency can put them in a patrol car almost immediately.  Other candidates, myself included, are required to attend and pass a six month Police Academy and another 6 months of on-the-job training prior to being considered fully qualified to perform Law Enforcement  duties.

    Safety:   I have seen many people injured in accidents and mishaps, to include myself!  I have been assigned as either the Safety representative, Safety Non-Commissioned Officer, Safety Officer and Manager in most of the units I was assigned to.  I have performed dozens of formal and informal investigations that are required to document the five “W’s” that apply to mishaps.  I have also conducted many OSHA type safety inspections and completed the follow-up corrective actions.   I feel that I have all of the qualifications required to perform as a civilian safety technician, but have been unable to convince the hiring machine to pull my resume.  The first safety position that I applied for seemed like a perfect fit.  That particular job site requires applicants to answer about 150 or so questions.  The first 100 or so questions were basic duties that I have routinely completed in most of my safety related billets.  The rest of the questions started asking about flight line operations and nuclear weapons procedures.  I figure those questions got me screened out!  I am very interested in the Safety Management field, and will continue to acquire formal training, regardless of the industry I end up working in.  I will continue to use my safety related skills and knowledge regardless of whether or not I become a full time Safety Specialist.

  • Saturday, January 31, 2009 17:01 | Jeffrey Backus

             Who am I?  One could easily assume that one knows oneself.  It is a question easier asked than answered.  Is it the physical description or the mental perception?  I must answer the question in order to move on with my life.  Fortunately, my mentor has shown me a few tools to aid me in my quest.               


                One such tool is the S.W.O.T. analysis.


    Definition:  SWOT analysis is a tool for auditing an organization and its environment. It is the first stage of planning and helps marketers to focus on key issues. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors. Opportunities and threats are external factors. 


                You are should be able to complete a basic SWOT analysis in approximately twenty minutes, allowing five minutes per section.  After conducting the SWOT analysis, perform an evaluation of the results that will help you understand yourself and support the decisions that you make.  The SWOT analysis can identify areas that you might not have considered and provide a different perspective in each area.    I provides a foundation to allow you to move towards your goals, support a career change or let you take action.  You will review your strengths and make sure they are reflected on your cover letter and in your resume.  You will need to address your weaknesses and develop your skill and capabilities to help you overcome them.  You will want to review your opportunities and take advantage of those that lend themselves towards your goals.  Also, consider the threats and how you can minimize or eliminate them.

    The marketing planning process entails a three-step process:

         1.  Determining objectives. 

         2.  Developing marketing strategies.

         3.  Strategizing an action program.

    My Strengths:

    I am mechanically capable and certified to fix broke things. 

    I can lead people to accomplish a mission using teamwork.

    Versatility in job assignments.

    Positive outlook on life, things have a way of working out for me.

    I am a retired Marine searching for my place in this community and society.

    Leadership abilities.  I have been thrust into Leadership positions throughout each of the era’s of my Marine Corps Career.  My first task was to move myself and ten other recruits from the Seattle Airport to the San Diego Airport and report in to the Marine Liaison.  I was not chosen for this job based off any Leadership ability that I might have displayed, but merely because my name was the first one listed on our orders.  (which I still have, since the liaison Marine didn’t want them) .  While we were forming up, one of the Drill Instructors asked for a volunteer to act as the Platoon Guide; I volunteered, but he picked the biggest guy in the formation instead.  I did end up as a fire team leader, then eventually worked my way up to finish recruit training as the fourth squad leader. 

         Following boot camp and my entry level school as an M60A1 Tank Repairman, I was assigned to a preventive maintenance crew with a Sergeant in charge of a Lance Corporal and myself.  The Lance Corporal was soon assigned to a temporary billet and the Sergeant deployed, which left me in charge of myself and the Mission that was assigned to this three Marine team.  This lead me to develop a solid work ethic that will be discussed later.  During my tour at Guantanamo Bay, Cube, I was again left in charge of the Tank Repair Section after all the NCO’s  rotated, I was the senior clueless Lance Corporal in charge of two other clueless Lance Corporals, but we kept the Tanks capable of moving, shooting and communicating.  My first leadership challenges did not really start until I was a Sergeant.  I was assigned to a section with several other Sergeants and I had one month time in grade over them.  I was also one of the youngest Marines in the section.  We all worked for three or four Staff NCO’s that sat around the office all day drinking coffee and dreaming up tasks for me to pass on the rest of the section.  This led me to develop the ability to get people that are older and in some cases more experienced than me to do what needed to get accomplished.

         After I was selected and promoted to Warrant Officer, I was able to improve my leadership skills at each new assignment.  Early on, I was typically younger than most of the Marines in the shop, so I was challenged quite often.  Later, I was assigned to a shop with 110 Marines in several different sections.  I was the third shop officer in less than six months, and they were running in circles.  I did not have any experience in that type of maintenance, so it took a lot of work and time to convince the Master Gunnery Sergeant and other senior Staff NCO’s to follow my lead.  

                Throughout my career, I have led by example, never asking my Marines to do something that I hadn’t done or wouldn’t do myself.  Always maintaining high standards of conduct, appearance and morals. 


    Work ethic and self discipline.  I rarely missed work due to sickness or personal reasons.  I was late for work only a few times over my entire career (I never got caught!)  I do have a tendency to blow off meetings that bore me or don’t seem to have much if any value added.  I developed a solid work ethic early on in my career.  A three or four Marine team was often reduced to one or two Marines due to leave, working parties and external requirements.  The remaining Marines were expected to complete the assigned mission, regardless of who was present for duty as if the whole team was there.  While assigned to the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, California, I was introduced to another type of work ethic.  This was known as “job security”, complete enough work to keep the production line moving on schedule and no more.  I made a habit of completing at least twice as much work as was required.  I achieved my goal by coming up with time and labor saving techniques.  One example is, I was given several sprocket carriers and told to clean out the bolt holes.  The special tool was a thread tap of the appropriate size with no handle.  I started out using an 8 inch crescent wrench which was too slow, then moved to a ratchet wrench which was better.  I soon tired of the slow progress I was making and checked out an air ratchet.  I had all the sprocket bolt holes cleaned out in no time.  My supervisor got mad because in the process, I destroyed the tap.  I explained that the amount of time I saved more than offset the purchase of several more of the taps.  Later in my career as a supervisor, I was assigned to a shop that had been on “overtime” for months on end, with no light at the end of the tunnel.  Production was slow with just enough getting done to keep each section out of the limelight.  I lurked around the shops for a few days just watching what was going on.  The Marines would work until the typical end of the work day, then mill around acting like they were working until the overtime period ended.  I asked my boss if I could cancel the overtime for a while to check something out and was given approval.  I told the Marines that if they managed their time properly and gave me a solid eight hours every day, there would be no need for overtime.  It worked, production increased even though the amount of hours “worked” decreased.  When “overtime” was required to complete a specific mission, I told the Marines that it would be for a specified time frame and be announced as far ahead of time as possible.  I also promised them a “day off” at the end of the overtime even if they completed the overtime mission early.  This work philosophy has worked for me time and time again. 


    Loyalty.  Marines as a whole are known for their loyalty to God, Corps and Country.  I feel that I should “owe” the entity that hires me and not consider another job offer after I accept theirs.  In my heart, I know I need to take the best job that I am qualified for, even if it means that I must decline to work for someone who offered me a job first.  I must also consider the benefits of accepting one job over another, such as pay, health care and retirement plans.  I take responsibility for my failures and those of my Marines.  I tried to find a way to have my Marines take the credit for our successes.


    Technical/Mechanical skills.  I took my bicycle apart when I was nine or ten years old and couldn’t get it back together.  To top it off, I lost a few parts.  I learned a couple of valuable lessons from that event.  Don’t fix something that isn’t broke and keep track of all your parts and pieces.   During my Marine Corps career, I was able to attend three repair courses.  I was initially taught how various systems worked, then was taught the specifics of the equipment I would be responsible for maintaining.  While I was assigned to First Tank Battalion, I was left on my own as the other Marines in the Team I was assigned to were on special duty.  I was complaining to the Gunnery Sergeant that I was bored with “just doing PM’s” (Preventive Maintenance) on the Tanks.  The Gunny asked if I knew how to troubleshoot electrical problems.  Cocky me said of course, so I was given a tank with a couple of pressure gages that didn’t work.  I spent two weeks troubleshooting the Tank from end to end, but every day, another problem with the gages or sensors popped up.  I eventually figured out that the Gunny was changing good sensors and gages for bad ones each evening after I left the shop.  I “borrowed” all the gages and sensors from a “good” tank and put them on the tank I was troubleshooting, then replaced them one at a time until I had all the bad gages and sensors identified.  Then I let the Gunny know I had figured out what the real problem was.  He asked if I learned anything about electrical troubleshooting, which of course I had.  Another example is during the Tank Turret Repair course, we were taught how a typical Hydraulic system operates, then we were taught each of the hydraulic circuits in the Tank Turret.  I have found that this is one of the most effective ways to teach mechanics and it has helped me to repair several different types of equipment without formal training.  


    Limited network.  The nomadic environment of the Military leads to a person having many acquaintances, but potentially very few real lifelong friends. It is also difficult to develop and grow a network of people that are outside the active Military.  


    Marine mentality. (perception)  Weakness is looked down on (to include perceived weaknesses).  I find it hard to be sensitive to other peoples personal problems.  I expect people to do what they are told immediately and without complaint or questioning “why”.  I often find it easier to do a job myself than to train another person to do it and then have to go back and fix the mistakes.  Zero defects mentality.  I have trouble developing a good rapport with people, which affects my ability to listen to problems, provide support and motivate them.  I find it hard to express my condolences, convey my feelings and be sensitive when bad things happen.  


    My Weaknesses: 

    Lack of public speaking skills.

    Dated Mechanical skills.

    Lack of formal education. 

    Lack of focus and goals. 

    Speak without evaluating the consequences of my words. 

    Limited effective network. 

    Inability to write concisely. 

    Poor time management skills.



    Lack of civilian work experience.  I have only had a few jobs in my life outside the Marine Corps.  As a Teenager, I worked the produce fields near my home, ran a paper route and worked a summer job helping to maintain the school grounds.  During my years as a Marine, I took on two part time jobs to fund my muscle car and hot rod hobby.  I worked for Montgomery Wards Automotive selling tires, batterys and minor services.  After a few months, I moved to the shop and became a “tire buster” and parts installer.  It was a fun job and I learned a lot about working with civilians.  A couple years later, I took another part time job working at an auto parts store, again, it was fun and I was able to learn a bit about running a business.  I “retired” from both jobs when my military duties changed and I was working longer less structured hours. 


    Mechanical skills are dated.  Most of my technical skills were learned between 25 and 30 years ago.  The Equipment I “grew up on” has either been deleted from the inventory or modified several times.  My automotive experience is mainly on older vehicles that don’t require specialized equipment to troubleshoot.   


    Lack of formal education.  After high school, I had a limited opportunity to attend a local community college.  I did not take advantage of that opportunity due to transportation challenges (my car was broken down), the lack of a job and later on because I had joined the Marines.  During my tenure as a Marine, I failed to take full advantage of the education opportunities that were available.  I did take four college classes several years apart and made fairly good grades.  I regret not taking advantage of the opportunities, especially when almost every job I’m interested in starts with “BA/BS required”. 


    Lack of focus.  I have trouble focusing on a task until it is completely finished.  I tend to start a task with vigor, but I will often lose interest or be distracted by competing requirements.  Some of my projects have lingered unfinished for one or two years before I get around to finishing them.  I sometimes have so many competing tasks to accomplish that I will run in circles all day and not accomplish much of anything.  I am often distracted from a task when I see something else that needs to be done and go to do it, then get distracted by yet another task!  I’ll also procrastinate or sit around for long periods of time trying to decide which task to complete and run out of time to finish a task or project. 


    Lack of goals.  I don’t have a very specific set of goals.  My priority goal is to obtain a job that brings in a specified annual amount that is close to what I was making while on active duty.  I want to finish several home projects that have lingered for some time.  There are also projects that I have not planned or started yet.  Long term goals include paying off our home mortgage in about ten years, maintain minimal if any long term car payments (pay cash or a large down payment for new vehicles) and be semi-retired by age 58 or so. 


    Lack of specific job knowledge.  I have a variety of military job experiences that do not relate very much to civilian job requirements.    


    Poor interviewing skills.  I tend to not prepare for interviews properly, which leads to not getting the job and is very counter-productive.  I have mediocre public speaking skills.  My mind has a tendency to go blank when speaking to a group of people.  This has happened during a couple of interviews.  I am somewhat shy in certain circumstances and tend to not speak my mind.


    My Opportunities:  New GI Bill provides potential for formal education.  Many job search sites on the internet make it easy to apply for multiple jobs.  Many lucrative overseas job offers.  Many job opportunities with more than a one hour commute.  The Southwest Veterans Business Resource Center.  New G.I. Bill, potential to gain formal education.  Economy is forcing people to repair their vehicles, vice buying new vehicle. (Requirement for auto mechanics.) 


    My Threats: 

    The current economy. 

    There is Intense competition for nearly every job. 

    The Real Estate market limits our ability to accept a job in another area. 


    Threats:  What obstacles do you face?  Are the requirements for your desired job field changing?  Does changing technology threaten your prospective position?  What is the current trend line for your personal area of expertise?  Could your area of interest be fading in comparison with more emergent fields?  Is your chosen field subject to internal politics that will lead to conflict?  Is there any way to change the politics or to perhaps defuse your involvement in potential disputes?  How might the economy negatively affect your future company and your work group?  Will your future company provide enough access to new challenges to keep you sharp -- and marketable -- in the event of sudden unemployment?  The things that (and people who) frighten, unnerve, and discombobulate you.  Threats are also normally external and are the things that get in the way of your success.  What obstacles are you facing?  What external influences may hinder your success?  Who or what could get in the way of you achieving your goal?  The current economy is causing more unemployment, which brings more competition for each job.  The competitors are often much more qualified than I am with their education and current job experience.

  • Friday, January 09, 2009 20:05 | Jeffrey Backus

                My first introduction to the Fallbrook office of the Southwest Veterans Business Resource Center (SWVBRC ) was during the month of October 2008.  I was reading the Fallbrook Newspaper and saw the picture of a man that I recognized.  I read the article and realized that I had crossed paths with him before.  I remembered that he was an administrator in the United States Marine Corps and that we had served together.  I filed the information in the back of my head, with the intent on stopping by one day soon to say hello.  I was also curious to see if the Fallbrook SWVBRC would be any help in my transition from an active duty United States Marine to civilian. 

                A couple of weeks later, while I was shopping in downtown Fallbrook with my wife, Hitomi, I remembered that there was a new Veterans Center in the vicinity.  I asked the owner of the business we were in where the new Veterans Center was at.  The kind lady had no clue that this new Veterans Center even existed.  As we progressed down Main Street, I asked each proprietor where is this place?  NONE of them were even aware that it existed!  I found it hard to believe that something that was important to me didn’t seem to be important to other people.  I finally found a store owner that had heard of the Veterans Center, but wasn’t sure where it was located.  She made a few phone calls, and eventually got the street name for me.  It was right around the corner on Fig Street across from a quilt store that my wife wanted to visit.  I had dropped my wife off and drove up and down Fig Street a couple of times before I located the office.  I parked back at the quilt store, walked across the street, and entered the Fallbrook SWVBRC office for the first time.  I was greeted by a young man by the name of Daniel Boothe.  I asked if Albert Renteria was around and was told he might be in later in the day.  I asked Daniel a few questions and got a quick tour of the facility.  During the conversation, I indicated that I was retiring soon as a Chief Warrant Officer 5.  Daniel volunteered the information that he was a Private in the United States Marine Corps and worked for the Camp Pendleton Scout (base newspaper).  I immediately sensed that there was a bit more to the Private Daniel Boothe story than was evident.  Daniel then called Mr. Renteria on his cell phone, and let me have a few words with him.  I told Mr. Renteria that I would stop in some time for a chat. 

                I stopped in at the Fallbrook SWVBRC a couple more times over the next few weeks before I finally caught Mr. Renteria in the office.  He was busy with a client, but welcomed me to sit and listen.  I found that the young man would be signing his “Articles of Agreement” form the next day and was invited to witness the event.  Mr. Renteria and I finally decided that we had become acquainted while assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California during 1995.  Little did we know that we actually went back a bit farther than that. 

                Al and I spent close to two hours that evening chatting about the Marine Corps and retired life.  The conversation kept returning to the mission of the Fallbrook SWVBRC and that it was about reducing, if not eliminating homeless veterans from the streets of America by 2035.  I didn’t realize that I was getting most of the first hour or so of the Orientation.  I remembered that I told my wife that I was running down to the local hardware store to pick up a couple of items and that I would be right back.  I excused myself and promised to show up at the signing event. 

                That evening, after begging my wife’s forgiveness for not calling her to say where I was at  and enjoying a reheated dinner, I explored the Fallbrook SWVBRC web site.  It didn’t take very long for me to decide to register.  Within a few minutes of registering, Al replied with a note thanking me for my time and inviting me to read the “Learners Blogs”. 

                The following day, I arrived a few minutes before, fifteen minutes early to be exact, the signing event.  I was introduced to several men who were noted to be fellow veterans, to include Daniel who I had met during my first visit.  I had some interesting conversations with a couple of the men.  I noted that there was a pretty wide variety of folks there, from young Veterans to an old grizzled double retired Veteran that made me feel like I was still a youngster.  There were actually four men signing the “Articles of Agreement” form.  Each man signed and dated his form, and each of the witnesses also signed the form.  I was honored to be invited to sign each form, even though I was not yet part of the program.  After all the signing was done and pictures were taken, we listened to a couple of the participants explain how the Fallbrook SWVBRC had already helped to advance a concept.  Al reiterated the mission and importance of following through with the 14 step program.  I needed to be elsewhere, so I excused myself and thanked Al for allowing me to participate.  Al asked when would I be interested in going through the Orientation; we decided that the next day would work. 

                I arrived at 1000 (10 am civilian time) on 31 December 2008 to meet with Al and go over the Orientation.  Al started the Orientation by asking if I needed the heat turned up, as it was a bit chilly in the office.  I declined and used my jacket to keep my fingers from turning to ice.  Since we had already gone over much of the first hour, Al was able to breeze through much of that information quickly.  Al hit hard on the fact that 23 to 40 percent of all homeless people are Veterans.  He iterated the primary mission and that the Veterans Business Resource Centers were about assisting Veterans to start or improve a business.  His vision is to provide a network of office spaces in support of Veterans owned businesses that hire Veterans.  After the introduction to the functions and various eligibility requirements, I was asked to recite a brief history of my life over about ten or fifteen minutes.

                I started by indicating that although I was raised mostly in Washington State, I was born in Newport Beach, California during July 1960.   I have one older sister and a younger brother (RIP) and sister who are twins.  We moved numerous times throughout my school years, but always returned to what I consider to be my home town of Orting, Washington.  My parents were divorced when I was about ten years old.  We moved from a large house to a smaller house across town.  Both of my parents eventually remarried and I gained a half sister and two step siblings out of those deals.  At some point in my early teens, I decided that I was going to join the Army as a grunt, probably after seeing hundreds of Soldiers marching past my home.  The Army unit Commander had decided that they should walk from Yakima, Washington back to Fort Lewis, Washington after an exercise.  Soon after I graduated from Orting High School during June 1978, I visited the Army Recruiter.  He told me that I could be a grunt, and offered me “Private First Class (PFC) out of Boot Camp”, then got me all signed up and asked me when I wanted to ship.  I told him that I would be ready to ship at the end of the summer.  The Army recruiter kept in close contact with me all summer, too close, and I eventually told him I wasn’t interested anymore because he wouldn’t honor my wishes.  Two weeks later, on 25 September 1978, I walked into the Marine Recruiters office and asked if he had any “job openings”.  He looked at the ceiling and made a crossing motion near his heart.  I had changed my mind about being a grunt though, I now wanted to be an Automobile Mechanic.  After I explained that the Army had me signed up, to include the PFC out of Boot Camp, he said that we could do that too.   He asked me when did I want to ship, after looking at the calendar, I replied, how about Monday, he replies how about Friday.  I replied, I sure would like to enjoy one last weekend with my friends.  He said, no problem, ship Monday as a Private.  I replied that I would see him Friday!  I’ll never forget looking over my shoulder as we drove away from my Mothers house, seeing her and my siblings waving goodbye.  About half way to the Recruiters office, I heard a “beep-beep”, I look down, and my Father was waving goodbye to me too.  Boot Camp was interesting and somewhat challenging, I did well, mostly because it seemed like most of my fellow recruits were doofus’ and screwballs.  I’m sure they felt the same way about me, but I was the 4th Squad leader most of the time and I could march.  I was ordered to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland to become an M60A1 RISE Tank Mechanic.  APG is an Army base, and I soon learned the difference between an Army PFC and a Marine PFC!  I spent a year at 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California where I soon irritated enough of my senior Marines to rate a “hot fill” transfer to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  My one year tour in “Gitmo” went by very quickly, and I soon found myself stationed at the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, California which is in the middle of the Mohave Desert.  I was introduced to a young lady there by one of my friends, fell in love and was Married on Halloween 1981.  I did not immediately enjoy the desert surroundings, so as soon as I was able to ship over, I did.  I requested and was granted orders to 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, California and was assigned to Ordnance Maintenance Company (OMC).  My son was born a few months later on April Fools day 1983.  Shortly thereafter, we parted our ways.  I then met my current wife, Hitomi, got married and have enjoyed a blissful 22 years.  During my tour at OMC, I was introduced to an M60A1 RISE Tank with a turret problem, the Main Gun would not elevate or depress in the manual mode.  Since that problem was a test question, I was able to troubleshoot and figure out that a key component was missing.  I ordered the part, fixed the turret and almost instantly became one of the best tank turret Technicians in the USMC.  One year later, I was selected to become a part of the new Light Armored Vehicle program.  I was sent to the Infantry Training School, Camp Pendleton, California where I helped build the maintenance shop from scratch.  A few years later, I was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSGT).  I was promoted to SSGT on the morning of 1 October 1986 and that afternoon was informed that I was a Warrant Officer Selectee.

                At this point, Al asked, WHEN did you go to The Basic School?  After I replied, February through April 1987, he said, “We were Warrant Officer classmates!”  So, we actually first met more than two decades ago in 1987 vice 1995.  After getting back on track with my life story, I came to the point of my mandatory retirement from the United States Marine Corps after 30 years, 2 months and 2 days of active duty on 30 November 2008. 

                The second and third hours of the Orientation were filled with information.  Al showed me his VA Card and ensured that I had at least initiated my Veterans Administration (VA) disability package.  I was introduced to the S.W.O.T. concepts of strength, weakness, opportunities and threats.  This part of the Orientation was a real eye opener for me, as I realized that I had not done a very good job preparing myself to transition from active duty to a civilian.  Al encouraged me to document my trials and tribulations while I go through these processes because if a senior Marine had issues, what are the junior Marines putting up with!

                The fourth hour of the Orientation started with an in-depth description of the 14 step program.  Al asked me a few “simple” questions about a chess board and how many moves I could make in certain situations.  This series of questions evolved into the 4 to 9 options of life, the P.I.E. factor, Science of the hunch, three pillars of e-commerce, tile to carpet and the domain of the brain.  All of these concepts that were foreign to me were soon made to make sense as they were explained and inter-related with each other.  Al encouraged me to relate my experiences, such as the Tank Turret repair, with problems and situations that I might encounter during my transition.

                Al asked if I was still interested in joining the program.  I kind of felt all along that I was going to become a member of the organization, so I said yes.  We settled on Friday, 9 January, where I was the first Learner to sign the “Articles of Agreement” in the new year of 2009.

                Initially, the whole process of signing the “Articles of Agreement” appeared to be blown out of proportion and made to seem much more important than it really was.  After reflecting on this occasion, I understand why the signing is a formal occasion.  It is much like the life altering occasion where a Marine Recruit is presented with his Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem after completing the Crucible, the “Articles of Agreement” reflect the roadmap of my reintegration into the civilian populace and my dedication to the eradication of the words “homeless” and “Veteran” being used together in the description of a person. 

                I want to thank all the folks that took time out of their day to witness my signing of the Articles of Agreement.

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A welcoming home for our Troops.

Welcoming home our men and women doesn't end after the crowd disperses, it MUST continue on for the life of the Veteran! They've served us, now we will serve them with programs that work so they reintegrate into society.

We are a national public benefit nonprofit organization that educates American Communities about best practices to serve Veterans.  We honor their service by empowering Veterans to apply their training and skills to successfully transition to productive careers and enterprises.

We provide free vocational training 24/7 to all of our members through our website, in addition to local events.  We believe the tenet that American Communities are the ultimate beneficiaries when Veterans claim their benefits and invest in productive endeavors.

The SWVBRC enlists the support of members of local Communities like you to increase Veteran awareness of the value of obtaining a VA card and receiving earned benefits.

Sponsorships, donations, volunteers and support from communities like yours enable us to reach out to Veterans and empower them to transition back into successful, productive enterprises that ultimately benefit all Americans and support future generations.

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