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Episode 77: Steel Will Leadership with Shilo Harris

Ep. 77: Steel Will Leadership with Shilo Harris

Episode Description

In our latest Veteran Led Podcast episode, we welcome a remarkable guest who embodies resilience and courage. SSG Shilo Harris shares his compelling journey of transformation and healing after combat.

Shilo’s story takes us from his proud moments earning Cavalry spurs to the life-altering experience of surviving a coma. He candidly discusses the complexities of leadership and the often-overlooked challenges Veterans face upon returning home.

Drawing from personal experiences, including his upbringing as the child of a Vietnam Veteran, Shilo offers unique insights into the intergenerational impact of military service. He delves into the nuanced realities of PTSD, not just for Veterans but for their families as well, emphasizing the critical need for mental health awareness and support.

Our conversation also explores practical aspects of military life, with Shilo offering valuable advice on maintaining self-care and work-life balance while serving. His perspective bridges the gap between military and civilian understanding, providing listeners with a deeper appreciation of the Veteran experience.

Join us for this powerful discussion that sheds light on the journey of healing and growth after combat, offering hope and guidance to Veterans and their loved ones.

Connect with Shilo on Facebook – Instagram – YouTube – LinkedIn and check out his website along with the nonprofits he supports: Helping a Hero and X-22 Adventures.​

​Follow this link to get a copy of Shilo’s book Steel Will.

Transcript from July 9, 2024:

Steel Will Leadership: Shilo Harris

Shilo Harris: Trying to get him to calm down. And when I say he’s young at this point, he had just come out of high school, went to basic training, and then they sent him to Iraq. And he was in Iraq, like minutes after graduating. And then here he is all blown up and we’re on this helicopter. They got him face down and I’m faced up and we’re talking back and forth on, you know, laying on this helicopter. And he’s like, man, he’s freaking out. And I said I could see his eyes all dilated out and I’m trying to get him to calm down. So, I started calling him by his first name. And I’m like, Adam, listen to me, Adam, listen to me. And then finally I see him dial back in and then, uh, you know, we got a bit of a dark sense of humor, right? Well, I’m like, I’m trying to get him to calm down, and I’m trying to get him to think. And I was like, bro, I said, you are bleeding all over me, man. Could you please quit bleeding on me? And he started shaking his head and he goes, I’ll be damned, he said, worst day of my life and leave it to a redneck to make me laugh.

John Berry: Welcome to the Veteran Led podcast, where we talk with leaders who use their military experiences to develop great organizations and continue to serve their communities. Today’s guest is combat Veteran, author of “Steel Will” and professional speaker Shilo Harris. Welcome to the show, Shilo.

Shilo Harris: Man, thank you so much, John, for having me on the show. And don’t forget, I’m dabbling in comedy now, so apparently, I’m a comedian too.

John Berry: Well, from public speaking to comedy, kind of a natural, right? If you can get them laughing, you’ve won in public speaking. So that’s absolutely awesome. That’s awesome. Well, let’s start at the beginning. I mean, you grow up. Your father’s a Vietnam Veteran. Your grandfather was in World War II. You grow up believing that you’re going to join the military.

Shilo Harris: Absolutely, I really did. I had it in my head that that was like, my whole life’s mission was to be a soldier. And have you ever. I’m sure. I’m sure you have. You’ve seen those books that follow you from, uh, early education to high school. Right. And each year you write what you want to be and your goals and who your best friends are and all that stuff. You know those books? Oh, yeah. My mother, my mother recently gave me one of those, uh, or gave me mine about 4 or 5 years ago. And we were looking through it. And every year I put soldier except for one year. I wanted to be an astronaut. And I think that was, you know, like, uh, when it was like a real big popular NASA thing coming around and, and I was like, oh, I can do that, you know? But you think about it, a lot of astronauts started in the Air Force or in the military. So, you know, one way or another, I probably would’ve ended up in the military.

John Berry: Fair enough. And now it’s Space Force anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, right?

Shilo Harris: That’s right.

John Berry: So let me let me take you through your childhood. Your your father is a Vietnam Veteran, and he’s dealing with with PTSD. And so, you get to see what that’s like firsthand before you go through combat and start seeing that in some of your soldiers. And I’m going to go back to before you were even injured, you started noticing the PTSD in some of your soldiers.

Shilo Harris: Absolutely. And as a leader and you know this, you know, I’ve been an infantry officer yourself. You know, you we have to learn how to read our soldiers without actually hearing their words. Uh, you know, because their body language, their behavior, all of these things are factors. And, of course, you know, as you said, you know, learning from my father was the firsthand experience. Although we didn’t know what it was, it actually taught me how to be a better leader in the military. And it helped me deal with my own struggles. And I started recognizing my triggers and started trying to do self-care to prevent PTSD behavior. You know, because I don’t want my children to experience some of the things that I experienced with my father, you know, because he was undiagnosed, he was untreated. And, uh, you know, these Vietnam Veterans, God bless them, because they’re the ones that helped us be welcomed home properly. They paid a price for all Veterans. So, for our Vietnam Veterans, I want to say thank you out there. Thank you so much for your service. Thank you for leading our country and in a good direction and allowing us to be welcomed home properly. But yeah, my father, he was undiagnosed, he was self-medicating. And these Vietnam Veterans that come back and they didn’t, you know, they were, uh, ill received.

Shilo Harris: And in fact, some of the Vietnam Veterans that I talked to, they don’t have PTSD from combat. They have PTSD because of the way they were treated when they got home. And that is unacceptable in my opinion. So, you know, now, of course, I understand my father a lot better. Do I condone his behavior and the things that he did? Absolutely not. But do I blame him? Yeah. You know, it’s we we’re still understanding this PTSD. And thank goodness, you know, we’ve come a long way in the last 30 years or so, yet, you know, it’s it’s still such a, uh, I don’t know, a, I don’t want to say misunderstood because we do understand it, but there’s so many layers to PTSD. I’ve met some people that, you know, their PTSD is almost uncontrollable because it gives them a physical reaction to their environment around them, whereas other people, you know, it’s more of an emotional thing. And so, you know, they’re just withdrawn or quiet or whatever it is. So, there’s so many layers to this. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. You know, growing up in a Veteran household taught me a lot. And it taught me to be a better leader.

John Berry: And you almost didn’t get that opportunity. So you were like the, I want to say, the typical high school kid getting a little bit of trouble every now and then and there there’s a night where there’s a little bit of trouble and you get out of that, but then you find yourself at the recruiter, you’re signed up, you’re ready to go, and then you get a DUI, and now you can’t you can’t go in the military. Tell us about how devastating that was.

Shilo Harris: It was it was pretty devastating. Yep it was I’m okay with owning my mistakes, you know, really and truly and growing up in a wild household, naturally, I was a bit of a hellion, you know, high school. I’ve tried to be a good student. I had good grades. Everybody liked me. I was a good, good guy. Uh, it was just. I liked drinking with my buddies, you know, we were all minors. I probably had, like, ten MIPs growing up when I, you know. And that doesn’t make it right? Absolutely not. Do we know kids drink? Absolutely. You know, just growing up in a small town, they knew where we were. There’s only like five spots where we could go drink, you know. And then the officers knew where every one of them were. So, it’s like, oh, it’s Saturday night. Let’s see who’s out there. So and so, you know, uh, but yeah, you know, I almost had an opportunity missed, but I almost feel like I’m better for it in a way, because now when I’m talking to younger audiences, uh, high schools and middle school and stuff, I tell them, you may not believe this, but the things that you do right now affect your future. It can prevent you from joining the military. It can prevent you from working in government and can prevent you from so much in life. And I try to encourage good behavior and, you know, at least making good decisions growing up, uh, in my younger audiences. So that’s a very good topic. I appreciate you bringing that up.

John Berry: Well, and that setback didn’t stop you. In fact, then after September 11th, you go back to the recruiter. I think you went to Air Force. And they kind of laughed. And then there’s an Army recruiter sitting outside waiting for you. Just waiting for me. Just waiting for you. Sounds about right. So, what happened?

Shilo Harris: He saw it coming, and, uh. And I had a I had a full bird colonel from the Air Force. I’d been working with him, and he really liked my, you know, my persona, my abilities and everything. And, uh, he asked me if I’d like to join the military, and I said, man, I’d love to join the military. I just don’t think I can. And he said, well, I’ll walk you down. And he said, don’t look like you have anything really bad on your record, just MIPs and little misdemeanor stuff, you know, kid stuff. And, uh, so he went down there and the recruiter, he didn’t even care about the record. He looked at my age because I was 27. And I think that’s why the recruiter recognized that the Army recruiter and, you know, because I went into the Air Force, here I am, almost 30 years old, and I come out and the Army recruiter is like, come on. I’m like, alright, bro. This is like one of those military malls, too. You know, where it was every recruiting. But, you know, they didn’t have Space Force at the time. I don’t know if you know this or not. I know that you can see that I don’t have ears, but I do have ears. Actually, I have a whole bag of ears somewhere, and I even have Spock ears nowadays, so I totally would have joined the Space Force. Man, I would have. I would’ve been a perfect fit. I’m a I’m a big sci fi fan.

John Berry: And so the Army recruiter is there. He ambushes you right outside the Air Force recruiting station, and you get you get signed up and your first this is this is interesting. Obviously, your wife, Kathreyn, uh, big supporter of the military. And your first duty station is where?

Shilo Harris: Germany.

John Berry: So going from West Texas to Germany.

Shilo Harris: That’s right. And the funny part is, is we had talked about that before, and I told her that because the recruiter said he told me that there was going to be a wish list. You know, since I didn’t get it in my initial contract where I wanted to be, which again, I still feel like that was kind of a God’s plan, you know, worked out really good. But, uh, you know, as I was sitting there and I’m looking at this wish list and I remember, I remember having the conversation, you know, with my wife at the time, I said, you know, I said, I really well, I think I want to, you know, have make sure our daughter is born here because she was pregnant and we wanted the family around. So, we were looking at trying to get stationed at Fort Hood. But here I am in basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. First time I’d really been out of the state of Texas that far, and I was thinking, why the hell would I want to keep looking at Texas? I’ve seen it, you know, and I wanted to see something different. And I’m looking at all these cool places and I’m like, they’re going to send me to one of these places. I’m like Germany. I grew up listening to my dad and my grandfather talk about Germany. My dad, he spent time over there when he was a child. But yeah, that’s one of the good things about the military is you get to see the world. So that’s what I did. I took that opportunity to see the world.

John Berry: And then as you show up, you’re one of the older, older enlisted soldiers. And at first there’s some concern about that, right? Not everybody accepts you. They’re like, wait, why is this old guy here?

Shilo Harris: I guess one of the good things about basic and me being at my age is, you know, I told you I had to like, you know, tough upbringing. So, you know, I was a smoker and a drinker and that sort of thing. When I got to basic, I didn’t realize what good a shape I was in. I mean, I was actually really well, and there were so many people started calling me pops. And then all of a sudden, you’re I’m in the top 5% of our fitness scale, you know, in our entire platoon and pretty much our whole squadron there. And, I mean, it made me feel good. It made me feel empowered. I was like, well, damn, I must have been doing something right. But I’ve always been a hard worker. My backyard looked like an obstacle course, so when I got into basic training, I was always in a leadership position. So even the kids they picked, well, they didn’t really pick, you know, it was like we were all, I guess you could say, in a foreign place, so to speak. And, you know, we learned to rally around each other. So even basic training came with so many strengths. And it taught me so much about who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go with my military career. That when I got out of basic training, I got really into fitness and just really working hard at, you know, keeping my health up and of course, keeping my nose clean because I worked really hard to get into the military and I didn’t want to do anything to screw it up. I mean, here it was. It took me 27 years to get here, and even then, I didn’t know that I was going to be able to do it. And I was thinking, I’m not going to do anything to screw this up. And I did, man. I worked my ass off to make sure that I was a good soldier, a good leader, and a good friend of the people that needed me to be there for them, I loved it.

John Berry: And very quickly you found yourself in leadership roles. You’re promoted to NCO and through deployments you’re leading patrols, you’re leading soldiers, and you’ve got a tight knit group. And then we take you to February 19th, 2007. What’s your ranking position at this point?

Shilo Harris: Well, that’s a that’s another really great question. You know that although a lot of people want to know the injury, they don’t necessarily want to know some of those other dynamics. Yeah, I felt like I was in a really good place in my career because as you said, you know, I bumped into, you know, I jumped right into being an NCO. I was always in some kind of a leadership position. And even when I was, I guess you could say, a younger soldier, you know, by rank, uh, you know, some of the leadership team would recognize. They’re like, what the hell? Why are you over here doing this? You know, they’re like, you’re not dumb. And I’m like, oh, well, I’m over here because I’m a private, you know? And they’re like, no, no, no, no, you’re gonna be doing other things, you know? And it’s like, and people saw that, and they put me in places where I knew, they knew I would grow. And so, when February 19th happened, you know, I guess you could say I was in a really good place. Uh, I felt like I was in a good position as far as, you know, like my career growth, uh, I would have been a soldier for life. Guarantee it. You know, because I was fast tracking, I got my six and six, but I was injured when I was around 32 or so. So, I’d been in the military. This is my second deployment. And, uh, I was already at my E-5, and I was supposed to be going to the board for my E-6 two months or two weeks after my injury date. And I remember having a and this is kind of a sidebar, but I remember having a conversation with my family.

Shilo Harris: I remember the chat rooms when everybody would be chatting. You could bring all your people. It wasn’t like the zoom room, but most of my family, others chat, stream and you know, back in my little boots and chatting with my with my family. And I felt so good. And I remember we’d made a plan for a family reunion and some stuff, and I remember getting off that call and I was thinking, man, that would just really suck. This is the first time all of my family came together the way that they they was all, you know, how inter family is sometimes bickering and stuff. Uh, it was like the whole family was come together. Everybody was so excited about this family reunion. And then I said, man, wouldn’t it be the the craps, you know, if I ended up getting hurt or injured or something and they wasn’t. Two weeks later, I ended up getting hurt. And then two weeks after that, I was supposed to go to the promotion board for my E-6, which I’d like to think I got. I would have got it, you know, I did study and everything, but I ended up getting my E-6, uh, while I was going through my recovery at Fort Sam Houston because they felt like I deserved it. How long that how long that. And I will tell you that I worked really hard for it. So, I’m gonna say, you know, even though they think they gave it to me, I earned that E-6. I earned it really good.

John Berry: You got the opportunity to lead a team. And, you know, people want to be on PSD, or they don’t, right? Because then you got to babysit the commander the first or whoever you’re with, and.

Shilo Harris: Nobody wants to be on PSD. Nobody does. So, I did it. I didn’t mind because I did. I loved the commander. I loved my sergeant major. You know, these guys were really good to me and, you know, and nobody I didn’t want to be in headquarters. And I know I don’t know if you probably know this, but as an officer, I don’t know the the conversations that, you know, you have a lot of times. But it’s like with us, you know, it’s like if you’re in the headquarters and you’re not really working as hard as the rest of us down on the line. And so, there’s that stereotype that I had to overcome when they did push me out to the line, they didn’t take into account that I’d already been deployed once on my first deployment, and we were on hundreds and hundreds of tactical missions on that first deployment. You know, just because I was in headquarters on the second deployment didn’t necessarily mean I didn’t know my stuff. And so, it was actually Steve Downey, I think a mutual friend of ours, Steve Downey, was actually one of the, uh, soldiers on that team that helped integrate me into the platoon because he saw the potential.

Shilo Harris: He knew that I was a good leader, and I think that we had had some interactions before. And then when I got pushed out to the line, these guys had suffered a huge loss. They lost one of their teammates, one of their brothers, somebody they’d been training with for a year or more, you know, to get ready to go on this deployment. And then they lose him and then here I come. I’m one of the replacement guys. And then they lost two other NCOs to PTSD and just stress and stuff, and they had to kick them out and get them some help. And so, you know, we got a couple other, uh, new soldiers. And this platoon was healing as well as trying to welcome this new team in and trying to be cautious. So, it was a big thing to overcome. Uh, but I did earn my colors, and but, uh, our mutual friend Steve Downey was a big part of that. And I’m so thankful for him.

John Berry: It’s always great through our whether it was, you know, while in service or through our Veteran organizations that we run into a Veteran that says, hey, let me help you. Let me, let me have you talk to somebody who I think you guys, you guys would be have a great relationship or this is someone you need to meet or whatever, but it’s just the connections and the Veteran community have been have been amazing. And I know, I know you’ve experienced that, but I don’t want to take us too far off of so, so, you.

Shilo Harris: Know, you’re.

John Berry: Good.

Shilo Harris: Yeah, I know I get I get sidebars every now and then. I like to share good stuff. So hopefully helping somebody out there.

John Berry: So. So at this point, um, by this time. How long have you been in this? In this. I’m basically. You’re a vehicle commander. So, I take it you’re a team leader at this point?

Shilo Harris: Yes, sir. I was a team leader and a truck commander. And, uh, yeah, February 19th happened. Uh, the hardest thing for me to have to swallow was that I lost three soldiers that day. And, you know, of course, as a leader. And I know that you know this, you know, we try to take on that responsibility, that it is our fault. And I still take that responsibility to a certain degree. But I’m not the one that put the bomb in the road. I understand that, you know, there’s all these layers of emotions that I still feel from that. But I remember when I first learned that I lost three soldiers in that blast. Man, there’s nothing, there’s no pain that I’ve ever experienced in my life that could have prepared me for that. I mean, it was just there was like this emptiness in my stomach. I just felt like throwing up every time. And I just kept seeing their faces. And of course, you know, I’m like, it’s my fault. It’s my fault. I could have done something different. Although I know there was nothing I could have done. You know, we had I mean, it’s the perfect storm, okay? The perfect storm we had one of the radios was down because the our lieutenant, he had to have a troop and a platoon net, right?

Shilo Harris: Right. Well, so mine, uh, one of his radios was out, so he took mine because I was on the lowest part of the totem pole, so to speak. And then, uh. And that was fine, you know? So, he took my radio. All I have is between that. Well, one of the things that we didn’t know is that that road was blocked that day, and we weren’t even supposed to be on that road. And, uh, because I didn’t know that in our trip at all. Uh, but, uh, there was just some other dynamics, just a lot of things that happened that day that should have been better, you know, and hardly any of it was in my control. This was a platoon effort. So, you know, I mean, it’s just such an unfortunate event that we lost these friends, lost these soldiers, and America lost three of her children. Yet it’s still a bitter pill to swallow and accept when you’re a leader of these young men and women. And so, for anybody that’s out there that’s had lost, I want you to know, man, that it doesn’t necessarily get better. It just gets farther away. And, uh, and, you know, I’ll never forget them. I’ll honor them hopefully with, with everything that I do. And, uh, I hope that their families recognize that, too.

John Berry: Your chief concern at this point is where’s my team? Where’s my team? Not even, you know, able to process the pain and what’s going on. All you’re worried about is where’s everybody? Are they okay?

Shilo Harris: Yes, sir. Yeah. That was. I thought it was pretty tough and nobody would tell me. Hey. Which was kind of weird. And nobody was making eye contact. Uh, you know, I’m a personable person. You know, my daddy, that was one of the things that he firm handshake, make eye contact. You know, this is what men do. And, uh, and so that was always the way I was. And I’m talking to people. I’m like, tell me where my guys are. And it’s like, nobody’s saying anything. They’re like, oh no, you’re going to be fine. And everybody’s just doing their thing, even on the helicopter. And everything happened the way it should have. You know, uh, I got blown up and here I was, I got knocked unconscious. I was able to kick myself out of the Humvee, and I was standing there. I didn’t realize that I had survived two blasts. The first IED, which was about 700 lbs., 6 -700 lbs. of explosives buried in the road. And, uh, then there was the secondary blast. The AT4 was that’s in the back of the Humvee. It cooked off and shot out the side of the truck and caused like a fireball inside the truck, which burned me and injured me even more, you know, because I was unconscious in the truck. And so, they were able to retrieve the driver because his door was blown completely off.

Shilo Harris: They got him out of the truck and was taking care of him. And while I was while they were tending them, that’s when the AT4 went off. So, they were thinking, well, if he wasn’t dead from the first blast, he’s probably dead now because I saw that fireball happen in there. And then when I got out and I’m barking orders at everybody like, hey, who’s calling up the 9 Line, hey, who’s doing this? You know, keep taking. And everybody just stopped. And they’re staring at me. And now, of course, that kind of enraged me because I’m like, what are you doing? Get to work. And and all of a sudden, you know, one of my one of my buddies at the lead vehicles because I was the third truck on the convoy and there was two vehicles in front, and then they everybody was out by now. You know, everybody was out of the truck doing this stuff. And I’m setting up security and all that stuff and trying to find bodies and whatnot. And anyway, so one of my buddies is over there and he’s waving at me, trying to get me to come to him, and I could see his mouth moving, but I wasn’t hearing anything. All of a sudden, I looked down and I guess I could feel my leg burning and the material from my body armor was on fire and melting and running down my leg.

Shilo Harris: Well, I had to take the body armor off and get that on and get that fire put out, and then come to find out, it was my ammo pouches. So, I had 200 plus rounds that was about to start cooking off on me. Get that taken care of, turn it back around and see what my buddy wanted. And he had to come out there and retrieve me because he was trying to get me to come away from the Humvee. All those cans of ammo, all of our ammo was in there cooking off, and I was standing beside the Humvee, and I couldn’t hear it because I was deaf, temporarily deafened from the explosion. But he ran out there and he grabbed me. Now I know that sounds like a. Uh, something that we would all do, but I don’t know that it always is. I mean, you think about that, and even now, I feel it’s like when I hear danger or if I hear something going on, I want to go and check it out because I feel like I can fix it. I run towards the danger to try to help protect people, help try to help save people, try to get people away from it. Whatever it is that I can do to help in that situation.

Shilo Harris: Not everybody’s like that, but this young man, this young man ran out there knowing that he was running into a hail of unpredictable bullets from that Humvee and saved me. That’s the kind of men and women that’s the kind of guys that we are. That’s the kind of men and women that we’ve served with. That’s the kind of men and women that are integrating into our society right now. They need jobs. They need opportunities. They need to make sure that their families are being taken care of. And that’s what we’re doing right here, right now, today, is hopefully encouraging that by people that are listening to your show. Because we do have heroes serving in our military right now. We have heroes that have served over the years and that guy come out there and he saved my life. Got me out on the ground. Laid me on the ground. Got me ready for, uh, the helicopter coming in. Everything happened. Just bam, bam, bam. Divine intervention, whatever you want to call it. And, I mean, it was just such a smooth, uh, experience that, you know, it’s like, even now, I don’t have a lot of worries or bad impressions about that day. I mean, my team was on it. Our platoon was so sharp. And I can’t think of enough for saving my life.

John Berry: And someone could have sat back there and assessed the situation. And while you burned. Right. But someone said, no, I gotta help. I gotta help Shilo. I gotta help Sergeant Harris right now. Because as you said in the book, the rounds are cooking off at this point, you know, I mean, you got in the in the Humvee. You don’t know whether you’re being shot at this point, because all rounds…

Shilo Harris: I didn’t know if I was I didn’t know if I was being shot at. You’re right. That was something I did forget. We didn’t know if it was like outside fire or I didn’t, you know, because I was there beside it. Uh, but anyway, I apologize. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Go ahead. But you’re right. Yeah.

John Berry: You’re medivaced and and you get to the hospital. And the first person non-family member that visits you is who?

Shilo Harris: Uh, so when we get to the hospital, Adam was with me, my driver, and, you know, we’re having a conversation. You know, my driver, he’s with me, and we’re having this conversation, and he’s like, where’s everybody at? And I’m like, I don’t know. And, uh, even on the helicopter. It’s kind of crazy. We’re we’re, you know, Trying to get him to calm down. And when I say he’s young at this point, he had just come out of high school, went to basic training, and then they sent him to Iraq. And he was in Iraq, like minutes after graduating. And then here he is all blown up and we’re on this helicopter. They got him face down and I’m faced up and we’re talking back and forth on, you know, laying on this helicopter. And he’s like, man, he’s freaking out. And I said I could see his eyes all dilated out and I’m trying to get him to calm down. So, I started calling him by his first name. And I’m like, Adam, listen to me, Adam, listen to me. And then finally I see him dial back in and then, uh, you know, we got a bit of a dark sense of humor, right? Well, I’m like, I’m trying to get him to calm down, and I’m trying to get him to think. And I was like, bro, I said, you are bleeding all over me, man. Could you please quit bleeding on me? And he started shaking his head and he goes, I’ll be damned, he said, worst day of my life and leave it to a redneck to make me laugh.

Shilo Harris: So now we’re having a conversation. I’m like, okay, where’s everybody at? Okay, so long story short, we get to the hospital, and they take us in opposite directions. Well, we didn’t know that we were separated, you know, because we were laying there on our own beds or whatever going through whatever. Well, at one point he said, where’s Sergeant Harris? And they said, oh, he’s gone. Well, he thought, like gone gone, you know, like I was dead. And then he lost his mind. He was like, oh no, no, no. They’re like, no, no, no, he’s just over the other OR. Ah, but the first person, uh, or the last, I guess you could say the last person that I seen that day was the doctor that was standing up there. And I’m still laying down, and he was probably one of the only people that made eye contact with me that day. But I remember I kept asking, where’s my friends? Where’s my soldiers? And this doctor standing up above me? He looked down at me and I’ll never forget his eyes. Like almost like crystal blue eyes. And he said, you’ll find out in a couple of, uh, a couple of months. I had no idea what that meant, but at that moment I was medically induced into a coma, and I spent about 48 days in that coma. And then I woke up in San Antonio, and I started my recovery there.

John Berry: And during that coma, pretty intense. In the book, you kind of talk about, basically, I go into hell and you’re feeling all these things, seeing all these things, and you don’t really know what, what to make of it.

Shilo Harris: It was like an alternate reality. And even now, sometimes, and this is probably going to sound a little wild, but being in that coma was so dark and it was almost like I was living an alternate life. Uh, I could hear my family’s voices, I could see images, but they were like dark and hazy images. And the only thing that I could imagine was, like, you’ve ever seen that movie Dark City with, I think it was like a Val Kilmer movie or something like that a long time ago. And the city, the city is shifting, and it’s like the city is always, like, changing. Uh, the I don’t know, it’s like some kind of a social experiment or something. It was crazy. Uh, but anyways, everything was dark and creepy, and one minute everything is kind of bright, and then the next minute it’s dark. And that’s how my reality was in that coma. But everything was painful. And I remember one day, uh, there was this nurse that came in, and I imagine her now like a demon, because I remember I couldn’t my hands were hurting really bad, and I didn’t know why. And, uh, she was changing the bandages on one of my things, and I kept.

Shilo Harris: I was asking her why my hand hurt so bad, and she thought that I was asking her to hurry up, and I. The way I visualized her was like this demon that was just going to work on me because, oh, she was like, she was being a smart ass to me. And I couldn’t even talk. I had a tracheotomy and my tube, you know, I could. I was like a grunt, you know, uh, and she got so hateful, and she was like, oh, you want me to hurry because I’m hurting you? No, no no no no. And I remember it was like these horns and everything. I mean, that’s the kind of crap that I seen. I mean, it was crazy stuff coming out of that for years. And even now, sometimes not as often as it used to be. But there’d be times what I would think, is this a dream? Is this something that I’m going to wake up from and I’ll be back in Iraq, or am I going to wake up in the hospital one of these days? And it’s just so weird, man. It was just just crazy experience. So. But yeah, that’s as close to hell as I ever want to be. Guarantee it.

John Berry: Yeah and then you come out of the coma, like you said two months later, 48 days later, and, uh, and then you see Adam again.

Shilo Harris: Adam and one of the other guys from our platoon. You know, he was there that day. He was a paramedic before he joined the military, and he worked on me after the other guy came out and retrieved me. And so, he helped give me stabilized and everything because our medic was in my platoon. He was one of the guys that didn’t make it. And so that was obviously a challenge. But I got to see both of these guys, right. And I’m like, oh, great. You know, then Adam, of course, as soon as he sees me, I’m all banged up. I look like a little old man all bandaged up, you know, probably weighed about 120 lbs. or so. And he just started crying immediately. And he’s trying to take all the responsibility, kind of like I was, you know, he was like, oh, this is all my fault because I was driving. And my God. Bro. Bro bro. Calm down. It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault. I was like, one of these days we’ll all sit around and have a beer or something and talk about it. And you just. I saw both of them like this deer in the headlight look. And then there was this big wide eye, and I’m like, I said, oh, I said, okay. I said, who didn’t make it?

Shilo Harris: And, and he said we’re the only ones left, Sergeant Harris. He said, it’s just us, man. While I tried to keep it together for a few more minutes, you know, until they left. Soon as they walked out of the room, I started crying and I cried for three days. Like I said, it was the most immeasurable pain I’d ever experienced in my life. And, you know, even though I was going through this physical recovery, I had no physical outlet. I couldn’t go to the gym and pound it out. I couldn’t go get drunk and beat somebody up at the bar, you know what I mean? I mean, there was no outlet for this anger and for all of this frustration and this guilt that I felt. There. And so, I fully understand what survivor’s guilt feels like nowadays. But, uh, after he left, uh, me and him, we still stayed pretty close for a long time. And I’m going to go ahead and, uh, get this out of the way, but, uh, you know, we used to have this anniversary where we’d talk to each other fairly often. And anyway, one day at one time, I called him, and, uh, and he told me, he said, hey, uh, Sergeant Harris, you know, the kids still calling me Sergeant Harris. You know, ten, 11, 12 years after or whatever. And, uh, I said, uh, I was like, hey, man, just want to check in and see how you’re doing. And he goes, man, he said, I’m done. Really good. I’m so happy to hear from you. He said, but, uh, he said, he said, I think I’m done. And I was like, oh, I said, what do you mean? And he said, he said, yeah.

Shilo Harris: He said, I don’t want to hear from you anymore on this day. He said, I’m ready to move on with my life. And it was kind of bittersweet. But, you know, I had so much respect for him having the courage to say that. And it helped me in a lot of ways, say, you know what, maybe I should start trying to put some of this behind me because I’m not a wounded warrior anymore. I’m just a warrior. You know I’m still a soldier. I’m some–I’m quite healed. Although I still have damage. I’m healed. I have to live with this current condition of my life and I’m okay with it. So, when is it that people shift that mindset from, I’m a wounded warrior to I’m just a badass American warrior? You know what I mean, where do we get back to living our lives and quit carrying this crutch of. I got wounded in Iraq. I seen dead bodies, I lost friends, I did this, I did that, we all seen something. Now it’s time to pick yourself up and put this country back together. But right now, our country needs us, our country is still struggling. We’ve experienced so many challenges in the last 15, 20 years as a society, as a community that we need to rally together. All of us, especially the Veterans. Because you know what? We’re the leaders in our community and we should be. We were willing to fight and die for it, and some of us did die for it. I’m just fortunate enough that I died, and they brought me back so I can say I died for my country, and I’m here to tell you about it.

John Berry: And not just the leaders, but the proven leaders, right? The ones who raised their hand, swore a solemn oath and then executed on it, whether they were deployed or not. We have people who actually did something for a purpose greater than themselves, and that seems to be rarer and rarer today. And I want to go back because I think in all you had over probably, what, 50 surgeries?

Shilo Harris: Oh, that’s sweet that almost 90 surgeries now. Okay.

John Berry: Well, I wish okay, but fair enough. But you’re not even done with all the surgeries. And you start giving back. You start to get on the speaker circuit. You start to get involved and start talking and spreading this information. You become a professional speaker and it’s going really well for you. But then you realize, and you still have to deal, deal with the demons and some of the stuff that, uh, that, that Veterans don’t want to deal with which, which is the PTSD, which is the Veteran suicide. And, uh, you know, take us through that. At what point did it hit you? Because you’re out there. You’re a road warrior at this point. You’re going from place to place speaking, um, and things are going really well in your life. And it seems like, you know, at this point, you’re at the pinnacle. How did it catch up with you or how did you discover that? You’re like, oh my gosh, like, I need it now. I, I’m physically I’m doing a lot better, but mentally I need to address some things.

Shilo Harris: Well, um, first I want to address the whole sweet comment. I was like, that’s sweet. You know, I was actually thinking I was like, man, I remember when it was like 50 or 60 surgeries and I was thinking I was like, yeah, you know, I didn’t have to have as many surgeries as some of my other buddies, but I’ve had to have tune-ups over the years. So, when the book came out, and I guess you could say when I was pretty close to the end, what I thought was the end of my recovery, it was just the beginning for more stuff. So, you know, that’s what I was like. I was like, oh, you know, that’s kind of a sweet memory back then, you know, that? Oh yeah, I’m done, you know? And no, I still had like 30 or 40 more surgeries, but even now I have to go and get a tune up every now and then on my hands or even my titanium studs in my head. Uh, but, uh, so I oh, so we’re talking about the motivational speaking and getting out there and doing stuff. Uh, so, yeah, you know, believe it or not, I didn’t anticipate on any of this entertainment. I didn’t plan on being on stage. It just happened on accident. One day, I walked into a room that I thought was my doctor’s office, and I was actually in front of an audience. Their guest speaker didn’t show up. I volunteered to do it. That led into one event, and then that event led to another event, and then it literally just snowballed after that. And, uh, the Public Affairs Officer at Fort Sam Houston and there at Brooke Army Medical, they recognized the you know, I had a good voice and I was real positive about my military service.

Shilo Harris: And so every time they had somebody come through, you know, for an interview or something like that, they kind of tapped into me because I didn’t mind doing public speaking, and it just worked out for me. I didn’t even know it could be a career. Honestly. I just did it because I wanted to do it. I did it because I wanted to serve. I wanted to help my brothers and sisters integrate into society. And that was really how it all started. And then before long, you know, I was like, Wells Fargo, call me or, you know, some big institution. And they’re like, hey, we’d like to hire you to be our speaker. And I’m like, hire me. You mean like, pay me? You know, like cool, you know, uh, and then I eventually I did turn it into a profession, and I’ve just been a yes guy. Hey, how would you like to whatever. And I’m like, absolutely. And I found myself overcommitted a few times just because I wanted to serve. And I was so passionate about it and it, I guess you could say, took a toll. So, I had to take my breaks and stuff. But it was a challenge because I was still going through my recovery and trying to work and trying to serve and trying to be a family man and try to do everything, try to be everything to everybody. And, uh, today, I think as Veterans, we find ourselves doing that, especially with our families.

Shilo Harris: And I know that at some point I’d like to talk about, you know, my kids and that experience. Uh, but, uh, you know, because, you know, we don’t always we our military service. Looking back at my marriage, I was gone half of my marriage, literally half. We sat down and calculated at one time, training, deployments and everything else. You know, ETFs are not ETFs. Uh, uh, PCs are, you know. You know what I’m talking about. Look at that. I lost some of my acronym language to, uh, PCS there you go. Uh, but yeah. So, you know, during all this, some of these transitions, we were literally apart half of our marriage. And so, there was a bit of me feeling like I needed to over, over, over overcompensate, you know, to make sure that I’m being a good dad or a good husband. And so, I felt myself pretty stretched at times. And I don’t want to go back there because I’m in a really good place now. And, uh, but we’re working on a movie. Um, I’m kind of thinking about another book. I just hadn’t really found what it is that I want to talk about yet. I don’t think there’s anything as interesting as there used to be, but I’ve got some things coming up that there’s going to be pretty interesting. But yeah, so working on this book, working on maybe an outdoor TV show in Florida, we got a couple things going on, but all of this stuff literally started on, uh, being a yes guy and just going, yeah, I’ll do that. And here I am.

John Berry: And as a yes guy, you took a lot of midnight phone calls from Veterans, you know, on the edge saying, hey, I need help and you help them. And you kept saying yes and yes and yes, and then you got to experience what you think maybe some of your caregivers experienced, which is, you know, there becomes a fatigue in, in always helping, helping, helping where if you don’t take care of yourself, it you know, it catches up with you.

Shilo Harris: Absolutely. And you’re absolutely right. And I left my phone on all the time. And I still do a lot of times now. Uh, yet, you know, I’m a little bit older, a little bit more mature. And I’m hoping that, you know, some of the guys that are in my life are the same way. You know, they’re mature and, uh, but yeah, I don’t do the drinking thing. I don’t do the two, 3:00 in the morning phone calls because even though they they are they’re beneficial. There’s a lot of hotlines now that I think are much more important, uh, you know, for these soldiers to tap into because it’s got a structured program. And although I understand people need to hear a friendly voice, sometimes an outside voice is what you need. Because if you’re in maybe somebody that is, uh, what do you call it, uh, enabling. If it’s an enabling voice, like, oh, you’re going to get through this, you know, stuff like that. No, no, no, no. So, I’m into the tough love now. I’m like, we’ve been doing this long enough, you know, not to drink, you know, because it’s one of your triggers or whatever it is. You know, some of these guys that are suffering from PTSD, they should know by now that they’re triggers. Now you’re an alcoholic, now you’re, you know, strung out on your medication, whatever it is that you’re going through, you know, these things in your life. I know that because I went through the exact same thing. I was on so many medications that I absolutely became addicted to my painkillers. And one of the best things that I did was start weaning myself off of it and start trying to find alternatives for the pain.

Shilo Harris: And I’ve done really well with it. I don’t take any painkillers now unless you know it’s over the counter, or unless I’ve just had a procedure or something like that, because we get stuck on oh I need that medication because of the pain. An addiction will make you think that it’s pain. Because he wants you to. Your body wants that and it’s in there and it’s just, it’s eating you up. It’s killing your liver. It’s it’s a gateway to other things. And I know because I was there, I was an alcoholic. I’m still an alcoholic, I know that. I have to be extremely careful with everything that I do. I recognize some of my triggers and I’m still learning new ones every day. We have to take control of our lives and we have to take control of our PTSD. Our families have suffered and give enough. They are still standing there beside us. Even. You know you’re talking about Kathreyn, my ex-wife. She is still standing beside me on many, many fronts. And she’s married to another man, and I call him my husband in law. I love him, too. He’s a good man. He’s a Marine, you know. He’s a good dude. And you know what? I still look at it like we’re all a big family. He’s a Veteran. She experienced this combat through me. My children, my friends, all these people that are really close in my life. These are the people that experienced all this with me. And sometimes we need to give them a break and take care of ourselves.

John Berry: And that’s exactly what happened. Kathreyn reaches out to you, and you’re this road warrior out there giving the speeches, taking the late night phone calls, and she finally says, look, we need you at home. It’s over. So, what do you do?

Shilo Harris: Uh, well, we got a divorce. And, you know, I kept I stayed on the. I guess you could say, uh, consistency helped in this transition because I consistently said I want to remain friends. We have too much history just to be mad at each other. Plus, we have children. We’re going to be in each other’s lives. And I kept telling her, I was like, Kathreyn, you’re my friend first. You’ve always been my friend. We just can’t be married anymore. And, you know, we both recognized that. And it was like that point where we had that conversation. It was like me and her. Both were like, yeah, this is it. And, you know, we had a little conversation about it. And although divorces are ugly, once we got through it, I stayed consistent on I care about You. You are my friend. I just don’t want to be married anymore. She was the same way I supported her with, you know, her when she was meeting other people and stuff like that. I tried to support her with the kids as much as I can. Same thing if I had the kids. She supported me and we just worked it out, you know, like two adults. And that’s where we all should be because it’s our children that actually pays the ultimate price, not us. It’s our children that pay the price. And again, they paid enough. Our children have paid enough. Yeah.

John Berry: And there’s not enough attention given to this. And you do a marvelous job. And the I believe the chapter is called “Uncle Sam’s Kids.” And you walk us through, you know, we forget. We understand that maybe the spouse may be the primary caretaker, but what our children experience takes us through that.

Shilo Harris: I’ll take you. I’m going to tell you a quick story and hopefully this will hopefully kind of put it in a nice little bow. Uh, my daughter, she was five years old when I got blown up. And of course, you know, she’s lived it. I had, uh, children from another relationship. And, you know, they had a retreat. Like, whenever they got too tough, they could go to their, you know, to their other parent. Elizabeth, my daughter, she experienced every bit of it from the day. From day one, she saw me in bandages. She used to come in and feed me. And the nurses realized that I wouldn’t tell her no. So, anything that there was, that they had that I didn’t want, they would give it to her. And so they’d be like, oh, give this to your daddy. This up to ten years. She’d come making me drink that stuff that I didn’t want to drink. But anyway, long story short, there we go. One day it was after a surgery and we’re in military housing. I was pretty banged up still, and they were unpacking boxes and doing stuff around the house. Everything was great. Uh, but I felt pretty worthless, you know, because I watched my family work all, uh, my, my wife handed me a hammer and a nail because that’s my thing. I gotta hang, so I like hanging stuff. It’s gotta be just right. It’s a certain height, you know? It’s got to be perfect. And first swing. I’m on the wall and I’m like, whack! And I hit this finger with that hammer and just peeled all that skin off and started bleeding.

Shilo Harris: I was on blood thinners, and I mean, just blood gushing everywhere, like pouring down my arm. And here comes my daughter. I started crying, I did, I was just crying and here comes my daughter, my father, oh, daddy, daddy, daddy. And she grabbed me by the hand, takes me to the bathroom and she cleans up my hand. She doctors it up. She bandages it up. Five years old. Uh, she’s not into medical. She’s like 21 now. I don’t know what I did wrong, but she should be a medical by now. But, uh. Anyway, so my daughter, she’s doing all this, and she’s trying to get me to calm down, and she asked me if I wanted to go outside and jump on the trampoline with her or lay on the trampoline with her so we could look at the clouds. And I was like, oh yeah, sure, sure. Well, more like, yeah, sure. You know, but we go out there and we’re laying on the trampoline and she’s calming me down. And while we’re on the trampoline, we’re looking at the clouds. And it was a beautiful day. It really was a blue sky and white puffy clouds. We’re talking about castles and animals and all the stuff in the shapes that we see in the clouds. And then she asked if we could pray. My five year old daughter asked me if we could pray, and I was like, well, yeah, we can pray. I said, do you want to pray for us? And she prayed for everybody. She prayed for me.

Shilo Harris: She prayed for her mom. She prayed for aunts, uncles, cousins. I mean, you name it. She prayed for literally everybody in the family. She even prayed for her brothers. And that’s. Well, that’s a tall, tall order right there. But she didn’t ask the Lord for one thing for herself. And I was thinking, if my five year old daughter can be that selfless, then we’re going to be okay. I really did feel like that. But I also realized in that moment that we had to be more attentive. I had to be more attentive, not we. I had to be more attentive to my daughter. I had to be more attentive to my children and make sure that I’m explaining things, so they understand it and they’re not blindsided by surgeries or, you know, what happens if I was to lose my hand or, you know, some of these things that we were really faced with. She’s just getting information second hand. And children’s imaginations have a way of taking them to places that’s not real. And so I realized that. And through her prayers, I listened to her pray and some of the things that she said, I said, I have to start taking care of my children better. And you’re absolutely right when you said that, sometimes we think, oh, the children are just in tow. You know, they get it. They understand. They don’t. You have to talk to them in their language. This is all, you know, way above their knowledge level and of course, even their emotional levels. So, it’s important that we take care of our children.

John Berry: And to do that, you realize that you couldn’t, you couldn’t continue on the road at the rate you were at. And so you start. I know you looked at some other opportunities, including like EBV, the entrepreneur, uh, Entrepreneur Boot Camp, uh, Vet Fran and some of these other, uh, business opportunities. So, so tell us about that, how you started looking for other opportunities that would allow you to continue to support your family and still have a have a meaningful mission outside because, you know, when you’re out there on stage and people are listening and you’re helping it feel it feels great, but now you’ve got to put the family first. So tell us about that.

Shilo Harris: But it was a hard shift. It really was, you know, because I mean, in the military you don’t tell your supervisors, no, I’m not going to go on that deployment because I mean, you go. And so, I felt I almost felt like any time I would get a call for a presentation, that was my next mission. And it got really–it was hard for me to say no to my next mission, you know, because I went years without having been without having an opportunity to say no. I mean, I could say, you know, I can say my opinion about how I felt about the mission. Well, what about this? What about that? Uh, yet, you know, there was no opportunity to be like, “Yeah, I don’t really feel like it this time.” You know, why don’t y’all go ahead and I’ll just catch you next round? And so, uh, you know, getting out there, and I felt like I was doing good things. You know, I figured the more companies that I spoke to, the better opportunities there would be for the Veteran community wasn’t necessarily always about my opportunities. It was about what doors can I open for my community? What doors can I open for my family? What am I, what kind of legacy am I building? And then I realized that even though I felt like I was out here building a legacy, I was forgetting the whole purpose, the heart of that legacy. What is the heart of your legacy? Not just what is your legacy, but what is the heart of your legacy? 

Shilo Harris: My my children or my family. And it always has been. And of course, the Veterans. That’s another part of my family. But there’s a center and then there’s outer ring and then there’s this next ring. And so I look at my life sometimes with this aerial view and I’m like, okay, where’s the good stuff? Where’s the bad stuff? What can I change? Am I fulfilling my obligations and all these areas? And if you feel like you’re failing in one department over another, it’s just like this. Uh, well, like, I guess you like a bad stain, you know, that. You just. You gotta fix that, you know, in order to be successful and everything. It’s all about balance in our lives, and I did. I found myself very imbalanced. And it was, you know, it was just–I was giving too much, and I didn’t have anything left for my family when I’d get home. And, uh, over the last several years, I’ve worked really hard at making sure that I’m a good dad, I’m a good brother. I’m a good son. I’m a good husband. I want to make sure that I’m fulfilling that obligation first, and then it makes these a lot easier when you have your family supported, because it all starts right here in the center, and it goes outward.

John Berry: And tell us. Tell us what you’re doing, what you’re doing. Now, now that you’ve you’ve kind of made that correction in your life.

Shilo Harris: All right. So, I’m gonna dip into faith just a little bit. Just so you know that I have a very good understanding about faith in general. I decided to go back to school during Covid, you know, because as you can imagine, I lost a lot of work with Covid. You know, I had like two years’ worth of work lined up. And then within two weeks after, you know, they started shutting everything down. I literally lost all of that work, you know, thank goodness it wasn’t, you know, me counting those as eggs in my basket yet, you know, it was pretty challenging because I was thinking, okay, well, you know, I’ve got a nice nest egg. We’ll be okay. Uh, and so I decided to go back to school, and I went for a religious studies, which was more of a personal growth thing for me. But I wanted to understand religion in general. You know, we were in Iraq and Afghanistan. You know, this was a different religion, you know, so I was like, and there’s a lot of subject matter experts that have never cracked a book. So, you know, I was like, I want to understand this for myself. And I really did see it as a personal growth. But the other side of it is I’m an author, I’m a speaker. And as I’m out there traveling and I’m on the road, I get a lot of questions from service members and even civilians at times about life and death. You know what? What is why did God do these things? Why does this happen? Why does that happen? And so, I wanted to have a better foundation on how to answer those questions from a religious standpoint, regardless of what that person’s faith is.

Shilo Harris: You know, just because I don’t have a knowledge of it doesn’t necessarily mean if there’s not answers there. And I believe this to be true. Your faith. Whatever your faith is, whoever’s listening, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Muslim. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian. It doesn’t matter whatever your faith is. If you lean on that faith in your darkest hours, it can help you through. It can help you through it. You know, having that peace of knowing that your deity or your faith, you know, you surround yourself with these angels or whatever it is that that your faith calls on, you know, lifting you up and carrying you through those dark moments. And so yeah, I got into that, and it’s really helped me with a good foundation and got me back on track. But now, uh, maybe one of these days I might have a ministry. I’m not real sure what that’s going to look like, but I have decided that I want to go back and work on the movie. And 2019. We had our full budget. We had worked on the script. We had a good movie, a good movie plan. Recently, me and the director came together, and we were trying to decide if we were going to push forward again, you know, because some of our past investors were asking, hey, what have we done? Are we moving forward? And, uh, we come together? We didn’t like the script anymore.

Shilo Harris: It didn’t feel relevant. It didn’t feel modern. And so, we scrapped it and we’re like, yeah, well, you know, maybe we’ll just step off the project and maybe we’ll see what happens. But the same day we’re sitting around and talking and BSing a little bit and we’re just like, okay, well, what would you like to see in a movie? And I was like, you know, I said, I don’t want that show to be just about my story. I want it to be about our Veteran community and some of the dynamics that our community faces, like real life. Well, this is what the Veteran community faces right now. And he was like, you know, he said, I was thinking that same thing, too. He said, I want it to be more modern. He said, we’re not necessarily seeing the same things that we were a years ago with everybody coming off the battlefield that they are. And so, we wrote a whole nother script in like five days, and we got the outline and we felt so good about it, and I still feel really good about it. So, we’re going to be pushing this movie out. Uh, we’re going to try to get it done, maybe this year or next year and then have it rolled out, you know, um, by 2026, I think is what we plan, you know, so it should be in production and ready for delivery by 2026. That’s our plan and that’s our goal. But yeah, man, I’m just into a little bit of everything still yet. Uh, I’m a lot more balanced nowadays and I’m not pulled in so many directions.

John Berry: So, let’s go to the After Action Review. Now that the examples of and I always ask for three, if you have them, three examples of great leadership that you experienced either in the military during recovery in the civilian world and then the three examples of bad leadership. I’m not asking for leader’s names, but some of the leadership that you’ve seen that you think, ah, that wasn’t great leadership.

Shilo Harris: Uh, okay. Well, uh, I’ll stick to the good for sure, because, you know the bad stuff. I don’t try to hang on to a lot of that stuff. You know, if it’s bad, I don’t even want to remember. You know why? Because I don’t want it to, you know, uh, infect my train of thought, you know, by thinking on the negative things. Uh, a couple of examples of good leadership. I will say that the general of, uh, uh, when I was going through. I’m trying to remember his name. Right. Uh. Uh, anyway, he was a one star general when I was there. For some reason, we zeroed in on each other. He loved me. And, uh, but he really took into account the needs of the soldiers as they were coming through. Balances the needs of the soldiers and the families. And, uh, I remember at one point everything just seemed kind of chaotic around the hospital, on the campus. And General Gillman, that’s what it was. General Gillman, one star. General Gillman I’m sure he’s a 2 or 3 are retired by now, but, um. Anyway, I remember when we were talking one day I went to his office because I committed to speak at something, and I. And I didn’t know what I was like. What did I do? You know, it was like the first time that I’d really committed to doing a presentation.

Shilo Harris: And, uh, and I knew that he was going to be there. And so, I went to his office, and I was talking to him about it. Well, then I also brought up a couple things about the family. So, I was like, well, you know, we’re I’m also looking at, you know, some of the other guys and their families were wanting me to talk to. I said, who do I talk to about these things right here? And he said, you know, he said, maybe we should start having town hall meetings. And I was like, I think that’s a great idea, you know, to give everybody an opportunity to voice their opinion on things that need to happen, uh, things that they’re faced with. And so, he really took it to the next level. He did. It wasn’t on deaf ears when I went in there and talked to him, and he made a, I mean, amazing changes around the campus. And it turned out to be really amazing, uh, but in a positive way. And then, of course, uh, I have had so many wonderful people come into my life during this recovery. And when I say this, it’s going to be a broad, broad thing. But I’ve met so many wonderful people that just started with a good idea of how can we help Veterans? And they’ve turned them into these programs.

Shilo Harris: Turned these programs into, uh, a thriving community of volunteers and wellness for the service members and their families coming through their programs. And so, anybody out there that might be struggling and, and one front or another in your life. Listen, man, there’s probably a program for that. I mean, really and truly, you think about it. I don’t know exactly how many Veteran nonprofits there are, but I know at one point there was around 800,000. I think that might be. I might be exaggerating, I apologize. It’s like a little unprepared on that front. But here’s the bottom line. The bottom line is there’s literally thousands of them out there. It’s either tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of organizations across the country. And many of them are national. A lot of them are regional, some of them are local. And that’s okay. We need all of them. But here’s the thing is, there’s probably a program out there if you’re struggling. And those people that had a great idea were good leaders and they got them off the ground, they got people involved, they rallied their community together, and they’re changing lives and saving lives. So, tap into that. I highly encourage it.

John Berry: And you list a lot of them in your book, “Steel Will.” And what I like is it’s not just the things that help Veterans and help their families but helping Veteran entrepreneurs. You really go through a list of, hey, if you want to go there, here’s a great organization to take Veterans on hunts. Then here are all these opportunities for you, because I think what Veterans sometimes don’t see is that there is no shortage of opportunity, that there are a lot of people out there who want to help, and most of them are Veterans who say, I just want to help other Veterans. So, and I think, you know, early in my civilian career, after getting out of the Army, I wish I had been more aware that there were all these organizations that wanted to help Veterans succeed, whether it’s in recovery or in business. But look, there is a huge community out there of people who understand that you have skills. And, you know, even in my organization, I think it’s probably a little bit selfish. But yeah, I love to hire Veterans. Why? Because they know how to lead, and they know how to follow orders and complete a mission. And, you know, you get the places now where you say, well, okay, we need to get this done. And someone says, well, why? And yeah, you can imagine.

Shilo Harris: Because I said so.

John Berry: As a leader, it’s important to give the why. But as you know, but as you know, sometimes as leaders, we find ourselves in positions where we have to get things done quickly, and we don’t always have time to explain why. And in an ideal situation, the leader can always explain, this is why we’re doing this. And let me take ten minutes for questions. But sometimes it’s the knife hand. It’s the direction we need you to go. And that’s what I love about being around Veterans, is they understand both sides of it. That I understand that my leaders will eventually tell me the why, but they don’t always have time right now.

Shilo Harris: Yeah. And you’re right. If it’s not mission critical, you know, then let’s say some of those questions until after. But you’re right. You know that nowadays that I see there are a lot of questions, you know, like from the younger people that I work with at times, I’d be like, I really need to get this done. And they’re like, why? And you know, and I know I don’t mind explaining. Yeah, but you’re right. There’s other times where it’s like, can we just get it done? Because I don’t really have time to explain right now. You know, we’re on a time limit. So, let’s just get it done and you know you should. But you’re right. That is absolutely right. So, I wanted to tell you about an old one of the organization programs right now, uh, because we’re really struggling to fill the need or fill the opportunities. So, there’s an organization called Helping a Hero, and they’re actually one of my top organizations that I’ve worked with for years. That was actually how I got my modified house, you know, uh, the makeover house. And that was obviously an amazing experience.

Shilo Harris: But I’ve been part of the organization ever since then. It’s a great organization. Well, right now they have a very great partnership with, uh, Bass Pro Shops and Johnny Morrison or Johnny Morris, and it’s called the 100 Homes Challenge. We are trying to build homes for 100 disabled Veterans. Bass Pro is paying 25% of these 100 homes. These adaptive homes are for service members that you know, need both have mobility issues and need wider door frames or whatever the case is. And I mean, it’s a home built in a very good neighborhood that is, uh, for long term, sustainable, uh, growth in the, in the individual and in the family. So, I encourage people to look up, uh, Helping a Hero and also X-22, it’s an outdoor program. You talked about the outdoor program. I like outdoor stuff. Hunting, fishing, you know, that sort of thing. Well, X-22 does a lot of things down in Florida. And so, it’s a very unique, uh, outdoor experience. So, I encourage you guys to look up X-22 as well.

John Berry: Great. Thank you so much. And in the show notes, Shilo, we will have all the information about “Steel Will” um about your website and your contact information. But for people that want to learn more about you, where is the best place to learn about Shilo Harris?

Shilo Harris: Oh, yeah. It’s, uh, you can. Honestly, nowadays, I’ve been doing this long enough that you can just Google my name, and it’s Shilo. Shilo. Uh, a lot of people spell it with the H on the end, which is the traditional spelling, and that’s fine. Uh, but it pops up either way a lot of times. But, yeah, you go to my website, and a lot of my information there, of course. And, uh, and a lot of the things that I’m into right now. And just so you know, you know, the last couple of years I’ve been in school. So I’m back to building a new foundation on this. Like, like I said, making everything more modern. Uh, so if there’s any challenges with the website, please hit me up on Facebook. Let me know. Uh, you can find me on social media as well. Shilo Harris. Um, Shilo or Shilo A Harris. Sometimes I use my middle initial, but yeah, man, I’ve just been so blessed on this journey. I feel so very blessed to be on your show, John. I thank you so much for your service, brother. I really do thank you for what you’re doing now. Thank you for what you did then, and I and I gotta give one more shout out to my brother. Uh, Steve Downey. I’m so glad that he connected us. Man, this has been such a great show. Thank you so very much.

John Berry: Yeah. Thank you Steve Downey. And I’m looking forward to the movie. And thank you for your service and your leadership by example by continuing to serve our Veteran community. Thank you Shilo.

Shilo Harris: Thanks, brother. I really appreciate it.

John Berry: Thank you for joining us today on Veteran Led, where we pursue our mission of promoting Veteran leadership in business, strengthening the Veteran community, and getting Veterans all of the benefits that they earned. If you know a leader who should be on the Veteran Led podcast, report to our online community by searching @veteranled on your favorite social channels and posting in the comments. We want to hear how your military challenges prepared you to lead your industry or community, and we will let the world know. And of course, hit subscribe and join me next time on Veteran Led.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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