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Thank a Veteran: A Brief Interview with U.S. Army Specialist Baker

in Do What You Love, Videos

Yesterday afternoon, I sat at my computer trying to decide which post I would share today.

Should I finish up the one about my thoughts on couples’ finances? Or maybe the mini-guide I’ve been working on to eliminate paperwork clutter?

Both respectable – yet far from remarkable – choices for posts.

But then I went to write down the date… 11/10.

Hmmmm, I thought, tomorrow will be 11/11 – that’s neat.

Wait, 11/11 is Veterans Day, isn’t it?

And then I realized something… I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about living intentionally. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve talked about selling useless crap, appreciating the little things, growing a business, breaking free of social pressures, focusing on what truly matters, and shifting your mindset of ‘work‘.

But all of these above posts, ideas, and discussions rely on one thing…

Our ability to even have thediscussion of “intentional living” is due to and dependent on the continual sacrifice and service of millions of United States Military Veterans.

In other words, we can quickly get so caught up in our own lives – and our own choices – that we forget that everything we have is possible because of a framework that has been set up for us.

The framework doesn’t always get everything right. But it’s made things for us pretty freakin’ nice.

So today, my call to action for you – no matter where you live in the world – is to take time out of your day to thank those that lay the foundation for you to have freedom of choices.

And for god’s sake, if you’re an American…

Take time today to thank a Veteran of our Armed Forces.

*****

Interview with U.S. Army Specialist Baker…

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[Watch this interview on the web here. Sorry about audio quality - I've officially order a new mic.]

Last night, after realizing what I shared above, I emailed my brother whose U.S. Army unit is currently stationed in Florida – after years spent in various location (hostile and friendly) abroad.

With no warning – and no preparation – I asked him to jump on Skype and share what his experience has been serving the last four years in the U.S. Army. I asked Specialist Baker about where he’s traveled to, what his typical day was like in Afghanistan – and what it’s like now, and what his least and most favorite parts of his experience has been.

Below is a full transcript for those that are interested – my questions are in bold:

Hey everyone. It’s Baker from Man vs. Debt. And I am joined for a special Veterans Day interview with Specialist Baker—that would be Nicolas Baker, but Specialist Baker as he’s referred to in the Army. How are you doing, Nic?

I’m doing well.

Thanks for joining us. For those of you that don’t know, Nic is my brother, and he is currently stationed in Florida with the U.S. Army. And I thought it would be fun to have Nic on for Veterans Day, just sort of as an ode to thanking veterans and thanking people that make all the other parts of life that we’re working on.

Whether that’s finances or selling your stuff or starting a business, that’s all possible because of the people that actually serve, and because of the veterans that have served for the last few hundreds of years, served our country.

So I wanted to talk to Nic a little bit about what his experience has been, in joining the Army and being in the Army, and sort of what some casual days are like. So first, Nic, how long have you been in the Army, and where are some of the places that you’ve been stationed?

Well, I’ve been in the Army four years and a couple of months.

I just hit four years, so—My first duty station was actually in Italy. So it was pretty nice, Vicenza, Italy. From there, I’ve been to Romania, the Republic of Georgia, Afghanistan, Qatar, and a handful of other places along the way. And now…

And you’re back in Florida now, actually, right?

Yes.

And I guess—Some of what I talk about, as you know, is travel. Have you see that as a benefit? Some people do say, “I liked my time in the military because I was able to travel.” Is that a benefit? Do you like traveling around?

I do like traveling. It’s a benefit. You get to see a lot of places that you wouldn’t have otherwise got to see.

And it also makes you realize how much you miss where you came from.

Sure, sure, definitely. How long did you spend in Afghanistan?

I was there six months.

I thought it would be interesting for people to compare what a typical day is like when you’re serving in Afghanistan, and what a typical day is like for you now, serving in the Army but in Florida. So what was a typical day, sort of, in Afghanistan for you? An average day?

An average day in Afghanistan. I was in a small closet is what it felt like. They’re called D huts. And basically it’s just a wooden shed, and that’s kind of where you live and sleep, and all that good stuff.

So you go to sleep hot, wake up cold. Basically you go to work, and it’s a lot different. It’s a lot to get used to. But I mean, as for a typical job, it’s all the same as here. It’s just different environment.

Did you guys—Was your job, or I guess what you were doing there, was that inside the base, or did you guys go out of the base, or out and around a lot? Or did you mainly stay inside the base?

My job particularly pertains to communication, so I’m normally on base, you know, with the computer stuff. But I got an opportunity to go off a couple times, which was very interesting.

Cool, cool. And so how does that compare to, I guess, a day in Florida? Is it basically the same for you, in what your day in and day job out is, now that you’re in Florida?

The job’s the same. The equipment’s different. But it’s the total opposites.

But the job is the same, so at least you have that to comfort yourself, but overall, it’s completely different. Here, it actually just feels like a 9-to-5. Whereas down range, you could be working 4 in the morning to 10 at night, and then waking up.

The conditions are obviously a little bit better in Florida, it sounds like. So just in terms of your first four years in the service here have sort of been more average. You’ve spent time, like you call it, down range. You’ve spent time stationed overseas. And now you’ve spent time state broad. Of all of that, what has been your favorite part of the process? Or maybe even your most memorable? What do you really enjoy, if anything, about the process?

I like the structure.

It’s kind of—not so much as being told what to do all the time. But knowing what you have to do, absolutely.

Most days you know exactly what you have to do, exactly what to expect. And you know, it can get dull at some—but that’s the way I like to be structured.

It taught me a lot about waking up every morning and doing physical training. I think I like the structure the most.

Yeah, I think a lot of sort of people in the field that I’m in, it’s the exact opposite. There’s no structure, there’s no people telling you what to do. And sometimes that’s actually a lot worse. Because there’s no one to blame at the end of the day. There’s no one sort of pushing you. It’s just all on your shoulders, and you have to do everything yourself. So I can kind of see the differences there.

I guess, what has been your least favorite part? Or what don’t you like? Without complaining too much, I guess, but what’s kind of one of the downsides?

I think it’s pretty widely known about the military that you are away from the ones that you love quite a fair amount. So I think that would be the hardest thing, was getting used to that.

I don’t think you really ever get used to it, but you start to accept it more.

That’s definitely one. And for future plans, I guess was the other thing. And not so much as it pertains to you. But I know a lot of people are doing different things. Some people put in their time and decide that that’s what they wanted to do. Some people end up making more of a career out of it. Do you have an inkling of, is it something that you feel like you want to do? Is it something where you feel like, “I’ve put in my time. I may want to do something else”? Or are you undecided at this point?

Well, I originally signed up for four years—no, I’m sorry, six years. And I had four down before I came to Florida. And I actually extended two more years, so now I have four years left again.

So when I first joined the military, my idea was kind of like, “You know, I’ll do my time, get out as a better person.” But I just extended two years, so it could be a sign that I like what I’m doing.

And I think that’s going to be the—If I decide to stay in the whole 20, it’ll probably be like that the whole time.

Just two years at a time?

Yeah, maybe four.

Yeah, yeah. All right, well I— [INAUDIBLE] quick interview. But I just wanted to give sort of people a look into what a day in, day out, typical American soldier lifestyle is like.

And so I’m going to encourage people to take time out to, again, thank veterans that make the different stuff that we’re trying to do in our lives possible.

And so, for Courtney and Milli and I, we’d like to thank you for being in and protecting our freedom. And I appreciate you coming on and sharing your story with us.

Not a problem. Thank you guys.

All right. We’ll see you soon.

*****

Sharing this conversation today is my way of using the small platform I have to thank veterans all over for the foundation I have to build my life on.

So from Courtney, Milligan, and me – thank you to all the Veterans out there – and thank you to everyone who is still actively serving. We really do appreciate you stepping up for us.

And thank you, Nic. We love you!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric November 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Thanks for your service to our Country Nic- you rock bro!

Eric

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Evan November 11, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Whenever I see servicemen at a bar, I always try to buy them a beer. It is literally the least I can do for the amount of sacrifice they make for us.

Thanks Nic!

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Gillian November 11, 2010 at 12:56 PM

I am heading to the Cenotaph this morning to pay my respects to all those that made the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom. Traveling the past year has made me realize even more how lucky we are. Thanks to your brother.

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Kristen Sloan November 11, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Thanks for this post Baker and highlighting the sacrifices our military makes for our country!

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Jenny Foss November 11, 2010 at 3:43 PM

What a cool, thoughtful post — a nice tribute to family and a reminder to all of us that we need to pause and acknowledge the freedoms our veterans have afforded us. Cheers, Baker. (And Baker brother!)

JobJenny

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Emily Helms November 11, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Thanks for this post, Baker. And Nic, thank you for your service to our country.

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Living the Balanced Life November 12, 2010 at 12:24 AM

Adam,
Great to meet your brother! Good vlog for last minute decision!
Thanks Nic for your service. Emjoy your time in FL!
Bernice

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Anthony K. November 12, 2010 at 1:45 AM

Baker,

Great post. As a soldier currently in Afghanistan, I understand exactly what your brother went through while he was there. It is quite a sobering experience to be over here and makes you truly realize what really matters in life.

To your brother Nic, a thank you from one soldier to another.

To all who support the troops, I think I can speak on behalf of many of them and say a big thank you. Without the support of friends, families and even the complete stranger, I know deployments would be tougher and morale would be lower (this is my 2nd deployment in 3 years and care packages and well wishes really can put a smile on a soldier’s face).

Thanks for the great post Baker!

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Dwight @ financially elite blog November 12, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Very fitting post for this time of year Baker, thanks for the transcription as i wasn’t able to watch the vid at the time.

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog dot Com

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Lou Mindar November 12, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Thanks for the post, Baker. And thanks to Nic, Anthony K., and all of the servicemen and woman who serve in our military. God speed to you all.

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Steven @ The Debt Solution November 13, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Great interview! From one veteran to another I can really understand your selflessness putting your life on the line for our lifestyle. The AMERICAN lifestyle!

A Troop 1/3 ACR Fort Bliss TX – 1988-1990 Proudly Served!

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MyMoneyMess November 14, 2010 at 3:56 PM

As the parent of a Marine, I really appreciate this post.

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muskrat November 15, 2010 at 11:18 AM

I’m a vet, so thanks for the shout out!

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Debt Free Daniel November 15, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Salute to all veterans for serving our country and his people, their sacrifices in protecting us is priceless.

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Jenna November 15, 2010 at 6:51 PM

Great interview! Thanks Nic! (Both for doing the interview and serving our country!)

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Ash @ The Middle Finger Project November 15, 2010 at 8:25 PM

Baker, you didn’t tell me you had a brother! ;)

Thank you, Nic, for your service.

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Amy Volk November 16, 2010 at 8:46 AM

Adam-thanks. I’m a former Navy Nurse and now business owner. I have loved following your journey for about a year now. I wrote an article called Dump Your Stuff, Gain your LIfe…it’s about Crap. So, I love that you wrote an eBook about that. Cheering you on from the sidelines!

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