This article is with one of my best friends, and a colleague from my days as a Hospital Corpsman. Ryan Lisec and I were first stationed at Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, back in the mid-nineties. While I went in a different direction, Ryan stayed the course, going up through the ranks, and is now a Chief Petty Officer. Also, he was in my wedding party when Tania and I got married back in 2000, so he’s a great guy. For some reason, Ryan’s currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, a place that I swore I would never go back to. Let’s hear what Ryan Lisec has to say.
Ten Questions With Ryan Lisec
- What’s your military background? Career, family, etc.
I’ve been in the Navy for 23 years. I’ve been deployed three times into combat with the Marines (twice to Al-Anbar Province, Afghanistan, and once to Fallujah in Iraq), and deployed a total of 7 times throughout my career. I’m looking to get married to my long-time girlfriend in the near future.
- What is it that you want to do after you leave active duty?
I recently went to the local community college, which offers an EMT program. As a prior instructor in the Navy’s Basic Medical Technician Corpsman Program, I would be qualified to teach EMTs in the state of North Carolina. Teaching and giving back to the community is something that I’ve always been interested in, and EMT instructors are in short supply, so this seems like a good niche.
- What is it about your service experience do you think has best prepared you for your transition?
As I mentioned previously, being a Navy Instructor allowed me to have the credentials for this opening. One thing that I’ve found in the Navy is that making rank sometimes requires you to take on jobs where you lose your technical proficiency. For example, an X-ray technician might no longer be qualified after he or she makes chief (E-7). However, an instructor rating is one that you can keep even as you advance.
- Think of the most challenging part of your life to this point. What is that experience, and what is it that you’ve done that helped you through it?
Going into combat three times. First time, you’re scared. Second and third time, you have confidence, but you never get over losing friends and colleagues. As a corpsman, you still have to be strong, and as a leader, you have to lead the troops who work for you…you have to make sure they keep their heads straight and keep doing the right thing. The other thing is I swore to myself when I returned from Iraq, I wasn’t going to drink. I’ve seen too many people who get caught up in having to battle alcohol problems while combatting PTSD, and this has ruined many careers and lives. I might have a beer occasionally, but I think this effort helped me through some tough times.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you in your financial situation as you transition?
I’d say 3, but it depends on whether I get the job that I want at the college. If I get that job, then my confidence would go higher, and I think we would be in good stead. However, I still have some questions:
- What disability rating will I get?
- What kind of job will Ashley (my girlfriend) get in North Carolina?
I had a decent amount of savings, but I had a house in San Antonio that went unrented for 14 months, and I went through a lot to keep that mortgage afloat. Although my car is almost paid off, that hurts.
- What’s your biggest fear about your transition?
Making sure everything’s lined up. Do I get a decent VA claim? Do I get that job at the college? How do I get everything set up so that it doesn’t fall apart after I depart?
- If you had one question that someone could answer for you (not a problem to solve, but a question that they could answer), what would it be?
To me, thinking about post-military life is almost like wondering what heaven is like. It’s different for everyone. If someone could magically answer any question, that question would be, “What is post-military life like for Ryan Lisec?” Unfortunately, I have to answer that question myself.
- What would you like to see “out there” that doesn’t exist, but if it did, it would solve a big problem for you, and other people like you?
I was recently on a camping trip with a lot of Chiefs, and everyone was talking about retiring. A lot of people had the same questions, like “what is life going to look like,” or “what else can I be doing to prepare?” Since TAP (or Transition GPS) seems to be a check in the block, I wish there was a way to put it all together.
- What person has helped you through your military career and/or transition the most, and how did they have an impact?
There isn’t a specific person I can think of. However, there’s a retired army master sergeant, Ken, in San Antonio, who pulled me aside one day and said, “You’re getting older. People get so focused on what their salary should be, but you don’t need to focus on that. You should focus on what you need to make to support the lifestyle you want, but don’t break yourself trying to do more.”
- Do you want to be contacted by people who think you might be able to help them? If so, how do people get in touch with you?
You can find me on Facebook.
Before I sign off, I would like to thank Ryan Lisec for his time and candor. He is a great guy, and not the self-promoting type. BTW, this is not a one-way street. If you’ve got a story to share with people, or would like to get yourself some exposure ‘out there online,’ please feel free to touch base with me at the Military In Transition Facebook Group.