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Bridge builder

Vet shares information to help transition

Robert Graves has written a book to help veterans with their transition back into civilian life. Courtesy photo

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Robert Graves does not believe in burning bridges; in fact, he builds them.

"Bridges are those metaphorical ties that help us interact with people easily," writes the former Marine in a 2016 article entitled, "Burning Bridges Works In War, But Not In The Workplace." "The bridges you build will lead you into a place of success more quickly than if you don't bother to do so."

In order to help other military members build a bridge of success as they transition to the civilian world, Graves provides a major span with his book, How To Grow a Beard: A Military Transition Guide Back Into Civilian Life.

Published in April 2016, the book is his story about how he found his way back into civilian life. To begin, Graves distinguishes between the "Gung Ho I Live By The Strict Code Of The Service" individuals and the "Troop Handlers" he met in the Marine Corps.

"I was a troop handler," he wrote in an email. "Well-informed Marines, I found, were more competent, because they felt like they were included in the process of decision-making."

When he left the service after 10 years in 2010, he went to work as a military contractor.  

"I ended up spending six years working as a contractor, and throughout all of that time, I was the ‘go-to guru' of anything vet-related," continued Graves. "Because of this, I actually was helping people improve their lives."

During recuperation from shoulder surgery in 2015, Graves used his time to organize his thoughts and to write the book.

Among the many topics it addresses, he focuses on converting military experience into civilian language for resumés and interviews and allowing others to help veterans with the bridge building needed to be successful.

"With veteran suicide and homelessness at an all-time high, it is no secret that transition can be hard," continued Graves. "The intention with this book is to make the military transition as smooth as possible for fellow veterans by providing the tools to transition successfully."

With the publication of How To Grow A Beard: A Military Transition Guide Back Into Civilian Life, a few nonprofit organizations noticed, contacted Graves and partnered with him to create mentorship programs.  

While working with these programs, he realized that the stories he heard from other veterans about their transition back into civilian life could help others.

To that end, Graves began the #YearOfTheVet podcast.

Information about Graves' book can be found at

"It is a platform that invites vets from all walks of life to come talk about their transition -- both good and bad," he said. "We can efficiently and effectively help veterans understand the many roadblocks out there."

One way around a roadblock is to build a bridge.

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