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I “met” Herb Thompson on LinkedIn. I think a contact had commented on one of his posts, so it showed up in my feed. I really liked the post. It was about how meaningful it is when someone higher up in an organization calls to check-in on you and you just shoot the breeze for a bit. Like two human beings. I connected with Herb, and began enjoying his other posts. I saw that he’d recently published a book on veteran transition, so I ordered it and read the Amazon preview (I think in that order.)
Now that I’ve read it, here’s a few reasons I recommend it:
First, it’s brutally honest while being incredibly upbeat. Herb bluntly identifies many of the realizations that creep up on veterans: transition is hard; the military has moved on from you; you’ll miss being part of something bigger (and be challenged to replicate it); your first resume will be horrible; and “the more you identify as a service member, the harder it will be.” But throughout, Herb assumes that you can – and will – be successful at this new kind of mission.
That’s another thing I like. Herb uses language and frameworks familiar to veterans to demystify what’s ahead. From the Military Decision-Making Process to non-kinetic targeting packets to equating an interview to a key leader engagement, Herb steadily casts the transition mission so that it feels familiar – and thus achievable – to veterans.
Paradoxically, Herb also pushes for the exact opposite: veterans need to stop using military language and reference points with their future colleagues. To put it positively, just as Herb translated civilian experiences into military frameworks, so veterans need to translate their own experiences into civilian terms. Whether it’s crafting the resume or sharing mundane-but-relevant experience instead of war stories, veterans need to become fluent in the new languages they will encounter. I like the metaphor of translation and have used it myself. It’s a critical skill for the transition mission.
Reviewed by Jamey Gadoury
The Transition Mission by Herb Thompson