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My Intro

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 13:43 | Fielden Coleman

I always assumed veterans were well taken care of by the government and lived out the rest of their life enjoying the freedoms they risked their lives to protect while in service. I rarely heard the term "veteran" growing up, despite having an uncle that was enlisted in the Army in his youth. For quite some time he was the only reference I had to the veteran community, even though he seldom used the term. This of course changed one day while I was in South Carolina, my home state, in the employment office with a friend. I saw a white male who appeared to be well into his thirties wearing an oversized business suit, talking to a counselor about employment. He seemed desperate to find a job as the clerk asked him questions about his employment history. I overheard him mention that he left the Army over a year ago with an honorable discharge. The thing that stuck with me the most about this Soldier was when he looked at me and said "I guess civilians dont need people to blow stuff up like the Army does". He said it with a smile on his face but behind the facade you could tell that this was a serious issue to him. I did not realize it then, but I now know that he suffered from a lack of knowledge of his true value both by himself and by the community.

The government gives us extensive and costly training that the average civilian may never encounter. Despite all of the training we receive to make us exceptional service members, it must be understood that the primary goal of the DoD is to DEFEND the country. As Al pointed out to me, it is the community that holds the task of welcoming those that served back into the community. However, due to a lack of awareness, that rarely happens.

When I left active duty in December 2007 after serving honorably for 4 years in Supply Administration, I went back to school immediately. I hit a few bumps in the road but they are not worth mentioning next to some of the hardships that I read about by other learners. I will say this though; military service and civilian life are two distinct ways of living. I may, for the sake of the program elaborate on this topic in later chapters as I said before.

I received an email from MOBCOM (the liaison for inactive reserve members) of a center opening up in Fallbrook that provides help to Veterans transitioning back into civilian life. I would need a job at the end of the semester, so I decided to call the number listed. A few days later I found myself in an Apple Bees listening to Al talk about the program. My first impression mixed as he seemed very driven toward a goal and well educated. He also seemed very sure of himself almost "car sales man" sure. He must have noticed that because he mentioned he didnt want anything from me. In fact it was he that was going to help me. He told me he would be with me from the "cradle to the grave" which I thought to myself "what did I get myself into this time"? Luckily, by the end of our meeting that changed and we set up a time to do the 4 hour orientation.

Before I go any further, let me point out that I could easily just live my life the way it is now. I have no complaints compared to a homeless veteran or any other less fortunate members of society. My philosophy on self-improvement is derived from the fact that I know if I remain in the position that I am in, I will not have much to offer to any one other than those closest to me. So my drive for improvement is underlined by the desire to help create opportunity for others. I sometimes get so caught up in the struggle to improve myself that I forget that. This whole process has reminded me of that goal.

The first hour of the orientation, I was shown around the center. My first impressions were that it was yet another "secret" resource for Veterans lucky enough to stumble upon it. Al mentioned the small, manageable size of the center was intentional, better to have multiple 500 sq. ft. facilities spread about than fewer 1500 sq. ft. sites. I was then asked to provide a DD214 stating an honorable discharge from at least 180 days of consecutive days of service. As we sat in the conference room, Al talked about some of the reasons for doing all this. He gives me a sense of where he came from and asked me to share my past as well. This was to get a better idea of how where Id been to get the best direction of where to go. I was then introduced to the cornerstone of SWVBC and that is the 14 step program that each learner is to participate in. The program challenges the learner to write a book of 225 pages with 450 number pages that represent 416 hours of study in our reintegration back into society. I didnt think my story would be worth telling but Al assured me each unique story is valuable in its own way.

Al gave me the opportunity to reschedule the remaining hours or to continue. I was anxious to hear more based on the outline he had given me to read, so we pushed forward. He told me the difference between a "Learner" and a "client" which did make a psychological difference in how I saw the program. This is when I started to see the "thinker" in Al wisdom of his experiences started to show. At this point I couldnt have stopped if I tried because I love learning new ideas, I just have to learn to share more of them (but that will be covered in my next chapter, "who am I"). We then talked about conducting oneself as a business would, literally. Commitment, credibility, and willingness to compose thoughts were explained to be valuable to growth of your business. Then he introduced some models he used in business starting with the S.W.O.T. analysis. It is basically a compass for your business (you) and is meant to help identify components of whatever you plan to analyze. The "S" is for strength which for me was my willingness and eagerness to learn for example. The "W" is for weakness, which takes some courage to explore. My weakness would probably have to be stagnation from fear of not knowing enough. The "O" is for opportunity and my example the lack of societal awareness of the knowledge that interests me. "T" is for threat and my example would be my credibility for presenting such knowledge. This is one of the many powerful tools that Al is exposing us learners to I wanted to know more so we proceeded with the next and final hour.

This hour to me was the most interesting because this is when Al finally revealed the real business models, all of which I will briefly describe. He started with a chessboard, in which you represent the king (in range of motion). I could relate to this because I like to play chess and understand the moves kings are allowed. At any given time 4-9 moves are possible which represent your available options in life. P.I.E. factor was next and explains the physical, emotional and intellectual way people respond to a given situation. The aim is to be equal in each of the three areas. The "science of the hunch" teaches one to learn, unlearn and relearn information. The 3 pillars of e-commerce show the relationship between the existing and open markets. Tile-to-carpet shows the formulas of market penetration. All these models come together to from the "domain of the brain" which I think is ingenious in both theory and application. A whole community of veterans based on this model will be a force to be reckoned with and will have the tools to make monumental change. I like the vision Al has; to create a paradigm shift in the veteran community. I don't think it will stop there though. I think this will serve as an example of how we can come together to solve our social problems we all as US citizens face today. This program feels powerful and already I can see the potential it holds for all who participate. Though it is far from complete and needs the communities to recognize and help build it, I can see this program reaching further than Al could even possibly imagine.

I thank you for reading my entry, and invite you to read my next chapter, "Who Am I", which I will post on a later date.


  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 04:47 | Jeffrey Backus
    Fielden, very well said. I can relate to the Soldier you mentioned in many ways. Please continue with your education, as that is another key to the door of success.
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    • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 17:59 | Fielden Coleman
      Thanks for reading and replying, I share your views on education and hope everything permits me to continue pursuit. Thanks again and good luck to you.
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  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 10:05 | Samuel Luna
    Mr Coleman,good writing,very honest and sincere.Much luck to you and yor family in the future.Nice to have met you at the center,see you soon.
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    • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 18:14 | Fielden Coleman
      I appreciate you reading and posting, it was good to have met. Good luck to you as well
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  • Thursday, January 22, 2009 07:06 | LeRoy Scheller Jr
    Excellent start and I look forward to reading more as you move forward in the 14 step program. I am available to assist you if you wish. Keep up the good job.
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    • Thursday, January 22, 2009 08:53 | Lyndon Dellis
      Well your off to a good start! Keep up the good work.
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 11:07 | Fielden Coleman
      Thank You for reading, it has been a pleasure getting to know you.
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  • Thursday, January 22, 2009 18:59 | Karen Meadows-McGraw
    Mr. Coleman, You had me at "I always assumed veterans were well taken care of by the government..." I too made the same mistake until I got involved with the Cold Weather Shelter programs in Orange County. Additionally, I assumed that all branches handle their family programs identically - NOT; there are radical variations between units let alone the branches. So too does the assistance offered Veterans vary from state to state and from one community to the next.

    Your storey about the soldier in the employment office seeking a job and his comment struck me. I know of instances where employers are no longer willing to employ military personages and we are trying to make a change here too. Howver, this soldier forgot what he found out about himself while becoming a soldier - his heart and mind. Yes, his MOS, while in the military was important, but his MOS is not all that he is. A soldier has his heart and his mind - it is huge, to big for a body to encompass. He has the heart and mind to go where no one else has enough testosterone (...pardon...) to go. These are his biggest asset. His weapons and tools have changed that is all. He must relearn to use these new weapons and tools, but he still has his heart and mind.

    Yes, the community has the responsibility of welcoming the soldier back. What is community? There is your neighborhood, there are church communities, there are dozens of communities. You are part of a community too. This is a community. This community has the opportunity to join with others to educate and continue to serve in a new way. Help us take care of each other and those who are still serving and those who will be returning home.

    Bless you Mr. Coleman, I look forward to reading your next chapter.

    We can not expect government to do it all. We can not expect a single person to do it all. But as a team, we can begin to make strategic inroads into the community. The civilians I have spoken with have the same presumption that you and I mistakenly held. It is part of our responsibility to correct that mistake. It is also our responsibility to make sure no soldier or military family gets left behind. The responsibility begins with each one of us.
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    • Friday, January 23, 2009 11:38 | Eleanor Tobias
      Mr. Coleman,
      Reading your first chapter, it was evident to me that you put in a lot of thought before committing your time and energy. That makes you a terrific candidate for this program, not just for you, but for all the other Learners. You have much to contribute because of your obvious understanding of the program and the reasons for it. I'm sure you will find your experience with Al, and the other veterans, very rewarding and I am looking forward to your next chapter! You are an excellent writer with an impressive command of the English language!
      I do not wish you luck, I wish you nothing but success!
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 11:15 | Fielden Coleman
      Thank you for you support, you seem to have a huge heart for the veteran community as well as a clear understanding of how to become involved. You indeed are an example of what could or shall I say WILL happen when the awareness of how communities can serve veterans becomes common knowledge. Thank You again.
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  • Sunday, January 25, 2009 19:41 | Chris Thayer
    Hello Fielden,

    You said it so well when you said “A whole community of veterans based on this model will be a force to be reckoned with and will have the tools to make monumental change. I like the vision Al has; to create a paradigm shift in the veteran community. I don't think it will stop there though. I think this will serve as an example of how we can come together to solve our social problems we all as US citizens face today. This program feels powerful and already I can see the potential it holds for all who participate.”

    I too feel strongly that this program is a wonderful model for communities to come together to create solutions for our social problems. Helping our veterans before they have problems is part of the goal and this takes greater community awareness and getting the word out. SWVBRC is on its way to creating more awareness and solutions through its many resources. Thank you for bringing your intelligence, your dedication and your commitment to help be part of the solution for veterans. I look forward to your next post.God Bless, chris
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 11:21 | Fielden Coleman
      Thanks for reading Chris, I look forward to working with as well as getting to know you along this journey. God bless you as well.
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  • Monday, January 26, 2009 07:12 | Ladycee
    Excellent beginning! I have always been proud of you in all of your endeavors, however after reading your post and seeing your intellect in print - this is more than a proud mom commenting. This is an individual that is proud to see a positive young man such as yourself take charge of his own life, decide not to be complacent and venture into his destiny. I look forward to reading the remaining chapters of your destiny for I know (personally) that you will "BE ALL YOU CAN BE". I love you dearly son - your mother is always your BIGGEST fan!!!
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    • Monday, January 26, 2009 14:00 | Liz Turner
      Fielden's Mom, I love reading about your love for your son and how proud you are of him!! I will be right next to you cheering!!
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 11:52 | Fielden Coleman
      Thank you Mom, for your support in not only this program, but through all my endeavors. Regardless of my actions, you remain supportive and provided positive reinforcement or just enough guidance to help me make the right decisions. You found that balance of parent and friend that so many need, yet so few receive. This organization is lucky to have someone such as you on their side due to your caring and supportive nature. It goes without saying how fortunate I am to be your son. I love you and miss you, Thank you for your support.

      For those of you that don’t know… My mother lives in South Carolina and works for the Richmond County board of education in Augusta GA. As soon as she read this she invited her large network of associates, family, and friends to become apart of this community.

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  • Monday, January 26, 2009 14:04 | Liz Turner
    Fielden, I loved reading about you! Your spirit will carry you to many successes, I have no doubt. I look forward to reading the next chapter and helping you with your resume.
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 11:56 | Fielden Coleman
      Thank you for your kind words and support. I look forward to working with you as well.
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  • Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:10 | Daniel Boothe
    Fielden, your description of the former soldier was in few words, inspiring. At first I felt disappointment and concern, but those feelings quickly turned to encouragement, the reason I am involved with the center today. We can make a difference and we if we work together. The personification you used was wonderful invoking emotions and painting a picture for the reader.
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 12:00 | Fielden Coleman
      Thanks Dan, fro reading and for setting the example with your initial blog. Your blog challenged me to put forth a more sound effort. Congrats to you and your wife! I look forward to reading your next chapter.
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  • Thursday, January 29, 2009 04:14 | Laurel Ho
    Ok, this is already reading like a great novel that you can't put down. I am so glad you got past the "car Salesman" fear with Al :) I have known this man for some years now and he has only one mission and that is to help Vet's in any way he can. Beyond being a Learner, I think you will achieve great things for yourself going through this program, and it won't stop there. I think you will go on to help other Vet's enrich their lives. Look forward to more posts and meeting you at the Center one day.
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    • Saturday, January 31, 2009 12:09 | Fielden Coleman
      You are correct, Al does have a great deal of passion about what he does and he constantly tests the heart of those he encounters to allow them to see where there heart lies. Im not as good as Al, yet, but judging from your participation I can tell you are enthusiastic about this cause. I look forward to meeting you as well.Thanks again
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      • Friday, February 13, 2009 09:39 | Laurel Ho
        Loved hearing from your Mom here.
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  • Tuesday, February 03, 2009 15:17 | Wes Koehler
    Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, 2010 hrs. Fielden: Your writing is excellent. I have been relating to that army soldier you overheard for over 30 years. Civilian life and the civilian work force has been a fight to the finish. Veterans are sometimes the only ones tough enough to deal with it especially now in the 21st century. I look forward to reading more. See you again at the Fallbrook center soon. WES
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    • Friday, February 27, 2009 17:25 | Fielden Coleman
      Thanks for reading, I look forward to working through the program with you.
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  • Tuesday, February 03, 2009 23:53 | Roger Reed
    Hey Fielden,
    Nice to read your blog and get a sense of what you are trying to accomplish. Just recently we met at the SWVBRC and we spoke a short while. I have been offering my support in the form of video and photos for SWVBRC since the day the doors opened. It was when I actually met the Learners like your self that I got the idea to become an organizer to aid in the efforts to help end veteran homelessness and aid in the reintegration and education of veterans. Keep up the great work and we will refuse to fail.
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    • Friday, February 27, 2009 17:27 | Fielden Coleman
      Thanks Roger, I wish you much success as you go through the program, as well as in all your endeavors.
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  • Wednesday, February 18, 2009 15:04 | Sigrid Gilbert
    It is great that you recognize the value of what Al is offering you all through SWVBRC and how much of it you have already absorbed. Your love of learning appears to make you open and fearless as you approach new ideas and run with them.
    I have lived most of my life in my comfort zone, so I can appreciate the temptation to enjoy life as it is, and admire you for facing the challenge to break through and come at life in a more encompassing way. Although the concepts in Domain
    of the Brain are exciting, a lot of it is over my head, so
    you being able to understand the theory and apply it to the veteran community is a testament to your intellect. With every new blog I read, I can imagine Al in his glory with all you guys making your way through the program with him, each in his own unique way. I love your mom's positive spirit and joy knowing you are setting goals to 'be all you can be'.
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    • Friday, February 27, 2009 19:09 | Fielden Coleman
      Thanks for noticing, reading and most importantly your support. We need more civilians to become involved in this process. Hopefully you get as much out of it all as us learners, actually I'm sure you will.
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  • Saturday, February 28, 2009 07:45 | Deleted user
    Fielden, you mention that you used to think that vets were well taken care off. I think many Americans think this. Even now, with wounded vets and horror stories in the media, I am sure many Americans think that reintroduction into civilian life is hard only for those missing a limb or suffering from dramatic war injuries. I think most don't realize that even vets who look "normal" still face a challenging transition. To be fair, most civilians simple cannot know the struggles of a vet, which is why vets need to speak up about them. Also, vets are often not very comfortable showing any "weakness" and this can complicate the transition. You mention that your struggles are nothing compared with those of other learners and other vets. I read that to mean, you're in a better place to help your fellow vets with their transition, because you understand their struggles in ways us civilians cannot. You mention that your drive for improvement is fueled by the desire to help create opportunity for others. I think you've come to the right place :)
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  • Saturday, February 28, 2009 15:24 | Deleted user
    Fielden, I really enjoyed chapter 1 and you are right we we accomplish a lot working together as brothers for the common good of helping our veteran community. I apologize for not writng sooner as the auto accident slowed me down.
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  • Monday, March 16, 2009 11:40 | Laurel Ho
    Fielden.....Your name is unique. How are things progressing for you? I have been a little out of touch lately. Did you attend the Public Speaking CLass at the Center? How was it and did help you in any way. I have always been terrified of speaking before a crowd :( Look forward to your next chapter.
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  • Saturday, June 06, 2009 08:11 | Frances Lowe
    JUst wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope things are going well. I am looking forward to reading your next posting and learning how things are going for you. Please keep in touch. Also, let us know if we can assist.
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  • Tuesday, June 23, 2009 08:30 | Deleted user

    We haven't met, but we have a lot in common. Like you, I have a passion for learning and take every opportunity to learn something new that comes my way. When I got out of the Navy in 1973, I left with a determination to make a better life than that of my parents, a good basic electronics education and, most importantly, my beautiful wife who has stuck by me for the last 36 years. She's the one who saw that the Vancouver Center was opening and encouraged me to come down to see what it was all about. I did and quickly knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Now I volunteer two days a week and will be signing as a learner this weekend when Al comes back up. I enjoyed reading your blog and I hope to meet you one day.

    All the best,

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  • Tuesday, June 30, 2009 21:27 | Tracy Perry
    What a great writer you are. I enjoyed reading the first chapter of your journey with the resource center and staff. I will agree, Al has a TON of energy but thank goodness he does!

    Thank you for your service, Tracy in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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