By: Nick Morales
HOW DO WE DEFINE SUCCESS AS VETERANS
For us Soldiers we had the enlisted career roadmap, essentially we saw what we needed to do, schools to attend, and what nominative assignments that would separate us from our peers. When I made the transition from Military to Civilian life I had no clue how to navigate this next chapter, but I had too, I have a family to support, bills to pay and it got overwhelming real quick.
Learn from my mistakes, the key that helped me find balance and purpose in accomplishing my goals was to find Successful Veterans and use their path as a model for what I wanted my life to look like.
In this series you will hear from Veterans who have broken the code to success for life after the military.
Dave “Super Dave” Allen is a Desert Storm U.S. Army Veteran, he served as a Bio-Medical Engineer. You may be asking what the hell is that? Well it’s IT for medical devices, X-ray Machines directly uploading films to your medical record. His M.O.S directly translated to an equivalent career as a civilian. However the things that set him apart were his military values and pride in his capabilities. Quick reminder, these principles have been engrained in us while we were standing on LITTLE YELLOW FOOTPRINTS.
Dave is the type of guy that people are attracted to, he’s confident, Driven, funny as shit and always has a good word in season for anyone.
Allens’ career is interesting to say the least, from Soldiers to salesman, then working for the Department of Corrections and Finally at the Department of Veterans affairs with a total of 35 years of Government service. But that’s not all, in February of 2019 while at the Tampa VA he saw a hearse on the loading dock, weird place for a hearse right! He asked the driver what was going on? That’s when the Final Mile was born.
The Veteran in the hearse was an unclaimed Veteran, No next of Kin and would’ve been buried alone in a direct burial (no military honors, no one in attendance except for Cemetery Employees). That didn’t sit well with Super Dave, he created a plan got 6 motorcycles together and escorted that Veteran to his final resting place.
A Final Mile escort is:
1) Adopting the Veteran changing their status from “unclaimed” to CLAIMED
2) Providing Military Honors at the VA
3) Travel by motorcade to a National Cemetery where the Veteran is meet by their Military Branch Representatives.
4) Then a casket side ceremony that includes the playing of Taps, 21 Gun Salute and rendering of appropriate military honors.
Since 2019 he’s provided funeral escorts for over 45 unclaimed veterans, and it doesn’t stop there. Another thing about Dave is that he swings for the fences! He got some face time with the Secretary of the VA and the Final Mile program which started as a Tampa VA initiative has now become a VA Nation Wide practice.
Remember this ceremony didn’t exist, it’s one more thing Super Dave had to create. If we really look at things for what they are, we have the tools to accomplish any task.
After the 1st Final Mile Escort he sat us all down and had an AAR (After Action Review) What went good? What can we improve on? And what can we Sustain? This may sound familiar as with every Military Operation/movement/tasking order, it’s a process to improve and fine tune the Mission.
If there’s one thing to take away from Super Dave’s story is that hard work isn’t a respecter of persons, you don’t need titles or accolades to take action. You put in the work… you will get the results. Find your path!
Dave "Super Dave" Allen, thank you for being a BETERAN!