Today, we will have Monica Munir, an Army Veteran and the Founder of Veterans Transition Services of America. Let's hear her advocacy in helping the veterans and how she found her passion in helping out the community.
01:40- An ironic and funny life journey of Monica
05:15- Diagnosed with stage IV Lymphoma cancer
07:06- Monica transitioned from security to helping veterans
10:21- Sickness opened Monica's eyes to so much more
11:41- Permitting to seek a passion
13:09- Monica found herself as an advocate
16:53- How does Veterans Transition Services of America work?
- You don't have to have boots on the ground combat to help. As long as you have the passion for what you do, you can advocate for the veteran community.
- Veterans Transition Services of America walk through veterans to find and utilize available resources in transition.
- Look at how to help the families because family members are just as important as the veteran.
- “Just being sick in the hospital opened my eyes to so much more, and so my passion is to help other veterans get on their feet so that they can help themselves and they don't feel they're lost.”- Monica
- “There's so much that you can get that veterans don't realize they're entitled to. People don't recognize that family members are just as significant as the veteran too.”-Monica
- “Yes, I am a female, I don't have boots on the ground in combat, but I was the one who helped them get what they're doing. Now, I utilized that to be an advocate for veterans.”- Monica
Transcript of Episode 032 with Monica Munir
Scott Tucker: Scott Tucker here and welcome back to Veteran Wealth Secrets. Where this show we talk about, Hey, how are we preparing for modern for post-military life in the modern economy. There's never been greater opportunities than we have right now, especially as a veteran in the United States of America in the year 20, 20, there's so much going forward, but we all know that part of the struggle.
Sometime during your career, as you're transitioning, even as after you're Veteran, I was a Veteran for five years before I finally asked myself the question what do I really want to do? What am I passionate about? So that's why I'm really excited that we have Monica Munir from Veteran transition services, the founder of Veteran transition services of America here to talk about.
How do you find that, that purpose, that passion, that, that sense of meaning. So we can do what we want to do work to live and no. Live to work instead of work to live. I always get that one backwards. But thank you so much for joining us, Monica. How are you?
Monica Munir: I am fine. It's my pleasure to be here.
Thank you for inviting me.
Scott Tucker: Absolutely. I want to have experts in this space. I am by no means a transition expert other than having done it myself. I have my own ideas on for some people. Maybe they might look at it some different ways, but there's definitely a lot of. Best practices out there for sure.
Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Like, how did you go from your military career to eventually end up saying, Oh, actually this is what I want to do is give back in this way.
Monica Munir: It's actually a very ironic and funny story to a degree. Depends on yourself. You have that military sense of humor started off in 93.
Sign me up for the army reserves on a dare. Dad dared me to do something with my life. He was Navy. I'll forgive him, but no, I went to all the ranches and I didn't want to cut my hair because it was down to like below the middle of my back. So we won that didn't allow, then I didn't have to cut the hair for basic training.
And they gave me my job of choice, which was an operating room technician. So I did army did. 94 went to basic training. And then I stayed in the army reserves until 97. Won't why was bored with it because couldn't do my job. So I went active duty and I wanted to go overseas. So I had to change my MOS to communications.
So I did that and went to Germany, loved it over there. The two years active duty injured my back, came back home. And then right before nine 11 hit, I moved out to Washington state couldn't find a job. So I went into the Washington national guard was stationed with a military intelligence unit and nine 11 hit got brought into the joint command operation center, joint operation command center.
Loved it the best time of my life in the military. Did that try one, realize that the back wasn't up to speed to stay in. So got out, came back to Michigan, started going to school for nursing, got involved in a fire department as a EMT. Enjoyed that, but then again, back couldn't hold out. So I stopped doing that ended up in New York in 97.
And my neighbor's there's this new program called Homeland security at one of the universities. So I went and did that because of what I did in the military in the joint operation command center. My passion changed from medical to community to basically like protection serving did a bachelor's in Homeland security and then ended up doing a master's in business.
Went down to DC, started looking for a job in Homeland security, FBI, that kind of stuff. And while I was down there, the guy at the VA said, let's do your back surgery. I felt guilty doing my back surgery in Virginia. One, I wasn't from there. So I didn't have family there. And two, they adjusted the state of the art spinal and trauma center for injured soldiers.
And I couldn't take eight hours of surgery for me away from the guys. And girls are women coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. So I told them, I'll go back up to Michigan and do my surgery there. For my family is plus U of M does the neurosurgeries for the VA. And I used to work at U of M. So I knew the the surgeon that would do it, came up, did the surgery.
And then I run a clean enough, nine months later, the Detroit VA diagnosed me with stage four lymphoma cancer. Oh my gosh. So I started all that process and at the very beginning they gave me a bout nine. Weeks to live. And once they found out what the type of cancer was that like, if the chemo works, we'll find out in nine weeks, you'll either hate to say it be dead, or it will work as you see it worked.
But sitting in ICU and all the private rooms and isolation rooms because of having cancer, I just. I told myself, you know what? I can't do Homeland security anymore. I can't do the protection force. I didn't have the strength. First of all, but just my heart started tugging on veterans because after I did my inpatient chemo or outpatient chemotherapy with Detroit, I went down to Tennessee to have a STEM cell transplant, which is like the next step for your treatment.
They found out the cancer had come back. So I had to go to Ann Arbor for inpatient chemotherapy. And when I tell you, I literally had to get a Senator involved, I had contact Senator Levin and his team was amazing. He got me into Ann Arbor to get chemotherapy. All in ever had to do was administer the chemotherapy.
They didn't have to do any tests. Didn't have to choose the chemo. So if I'm going through that type of hoops and red tape, knowing personally, knowing US Senator what's, everybody else going through that doesn't know a Senator. So like when I transitioned from the security to actually helping veterans.
I had already sat on a few different boards at the Detroit VA to help them better themselves to help veterans, especially the female veterans, because for some reason, people don't see us when we go to the VA, they're like, Oh, are you here with your dad? Or are you here with your spouse? Oh, wow, wait a second.
I'm here for me type thing. And then. Also in my work history, I was filling out a job application for the FBI and I had to do the background check. I realized I had 28 different jobs since I was 18 and only, I think like 20, 36 at the time. So I started like really thinking, like, why do I have so many different jobs?
I didn't feel that connection that we feel in the military. I didn't have the passion for what I was doing. So it's like sitting in the hospital, but I'm like what else can I do? So I decided to start a company or at the time it was a company to help veterans. And also I was always on Facebook cause you know how bored we were and like what 2012, 2013.
An ad for marriage and family therapy, specializing in veterans and military kept popping up. So I'm like, okay, I hate psychology, but maybe this is a sign I got six months left. I'll have my degree in that. So not only will my will, the nonprofit, I founded help with mental health issues, but. During my internship now I noticed the veterans.
If they don't have that help for their family, that's one problem that they're having with their transition, that they feel lost. So I helped them get their claims. I've helped them if they were homeless. Get housing. I'm actually a habitat. Recipient after I did my transplant, I was still living at my parents and habitat came to one of the board meetings I was at.
It was looking for a metric. And my first thing is, let me give me about a month. Let me talk with the people in the VA. I'll get you a good candidate. Everybody likes, smacked me about the head and was like you, you apply. Yeah. You know how we think we don't. We don't ask for that help. I'm good. I'm like, give me about two years.
I'll be back on my feet. I won't need it. It was the best thing in the world because now I actually opened my house for veterans that need assistance, like them little transition, if they need just that little help to get from being homeless, to getting an apartment or getting a house. So as. I'm helping them do that with other organizations that work with them.
They're not on the street because we know there's a lot of homeless Veteran. Yeah. Just second in the hospital opened my eyes to so much more. So my my passion is really just helping other veterans get on their feet so that they can help themselves. So they don't feel like they're lost or that there's nobody.
Alice. That feels the same
Scott Tucker: way. I like that you say that because it's nobody's fault that the veterans are just like, you get so many benefits. That is, it almost feels like you're compelled to wait and wait for orders. Where's my next thing. Where's my next station. And what a compelling story that while you were doing what you thought you, you should, we do it or want it to be doing after the military and circumstances, two major medical conditions, put those to a stop and it caused you to say, Hey, what you know, now I can't do things I thought I wanted to do.
Actually, maybe I really enjoy this other thing over. There was like a forcing mechanism. Not saying it was a, in some ways it was a good thing. Those things happen as peoples, they would have been but not all of us have that, unless we have some sort of wake-up call epiphany, given what you're you do now?
How do we. How do we give ourselves as veterans permission to seek a passion? Sometimes it's hard to say, I don't know what my passion is. I don't want to make money from a passion. It's sometimes you can turn the thing. You're making money from into a passion. But w when you're working with folks, cause I had people messaging me and they just go, Scott, I don't know how to translate my skills.
I don't know what I supposed to do. And it's don't worry about translating your skills figure, go find what's drawing. You did something. So yeah. How do you work with that? At Veteran changes? Services of America. Sorry, say it too fast.
Monica Munir: At one time, it was just Veteran transition services.
But in order to be a nonprofit, I had to change the name because I actually go all around the United States, helping veterans. I just, yeah. That's a very interesting question because like I said, I didn't know really what I wanted and. I started going to a church that my sister and my brother went to.
And that's when, like everything started to fall into play. I did a career class with them. And one of the tests they have is finding what your passion is or what you basically, what God has made you to do. And mine actually was an advocate. So that's what I do. And I just started like really looking at it and then looking at my life.
I'm like, you're right. I am an advocate for veterans because of everything that I've gone through. Yes, I am a female. Yes. At the time I was very young. I don't have boots on the ground combat. But I have two Wars that I was in rear D doing a lot of the logistics, helping them that way. Sure. So a lot of veterans that I've run up with say you don't, you were never in boots on the ground.
I'm like, you're right. I wasn't. But I was the one that helped you get to work. You were doing. I was the one that was looking at the set raps, seeing what was going on. So to a degree, I was there. But my body physically wasn't there. When you guys went into the firefights, did I cry? Yeah. When I lost friends, did I cry without no doubt saying all that?
I now utilize it because when the guys come back, like you said, we want orders. So when I'm doing therapy, I don't I'm like a drill Sergeant. I'm like, you're crazy. This is what you need to do, but walk them as a timeline. Okay. Let's get your claim. Let's see, once you get your claim, are you considered disabled from the VA?
So after you get your GI bill, if you still need schooling, we can do the VOC rehab. And do you have a house let's go for the VA loans. And there's so much that you can get that people don't realize are veterans don't realize they're entitled to. And then I also therapy-wise see a lot of the children.
Which I never thought I would be working with children. I always thought it would be the veterans people don't also realize the family members are just as important as the Veteran, because they were the ones that were back, always worrying. They're the ones, essentially the spouses, they had to keep a foundation at the house so that the soldiers, our sailors airmen didn't have to worry about what was going on at home.
Not only do we have to look at how to help the veterans, but now how to help the veterans families?
Scott Tucker: That's super poor. My wife actually is a gold star daughter. Lost her dad at sea when she was 10 and it wasn't until 20 years later that she realized. Oh, I didn't know that there was a community that I'm still a part of this and that there's resources and so on.
So many benefits. And so she actually put podcast over a year ago and just won a major award. It's it's for military families to bring resources like yourself and just make sure there's awareness for the family, for the spouse and the kids who are left in the dark, it's called holding down the Fort.
So I like how you said foundation. Cause that's what. Yes, they are the foundation to, make our military work that's for sure. Monica, unfortunately, we're, I'm running up on time. But wow. You've definitely put out a lot of insight and thoughts and thank you for sharing your story about, how, cause how much adversity are our veterans going through in a lot of different ways and to often say I'm at the end of the line.
There's no orders and things can get bad and you have to, pick it up and figure it out or go find the resources such as yourself. So Monica tell us who should be contacting you? How do they contact you? Do you partner with other organizations? What can you tell us about exactly how Veteran sir transition services of America works and how should people contact you?
Monica Munir: Okay. I do have email, which is veteran's trenches and services at Gmail. And I do have a work telephone number. And that is (734) 905-0080. So those are the two ways you can contact me. And what I actually do is I put you if I can't do it, I do have somebody that does. Or that can help you. I'm focused in Michigan because that's where I live.
But I do all over the United States. If I don't have that research right there in front of me, I will go research it and then get back to you depending on where you are. I've traveled to Florida and California Georgia, North Carolina, to help other veterans that needed, like that little help walk through.
We don't. We just have to build that community. I guess you could say, I do partner with a lot of people in Michigan, which is like red cross. I don't know there's so many, ,
Scott Tucker: there's 45,000 veterans service organizations. So I, what people don't
Monica Munir: realize is a normal, like red cross, they have a division for veterans only,
Scott Tucker: or most people don't.
Monica Munir: So just low, you can just reach out to any local nonprofit and ask them, do you have a division of veterans? And sometimes they say, yeah, like habitat. Of America has a division for veterans. People think of habitat as just a normal, just help helping lower income. But no, they actually have a Veteran division.
Scott Tucker: Okay. No good to know. Wow. Then you are definitely full of resources. Plenty. Plenty more. To share for people. If you got something, if you've got to, if you've got a question, a problem I'm guessing Monica could point you in the right direction one way or the other. And obviously now we're in zoom land, so it'd be a little easier to connect, but Monica, thank you again so much for joining us and sharing your insight.
I look forward to connecting with you more and seeing how things are going and seeing how we can help out. But yeah. Anything else? You want to
Monica Munir: share? I just want to thank the families and everybody that's been in the military or still in the military. Thank you for everything that you've done to make us safe and keep it out of America.
Scott Tucker: No, absolutely. Thanks again, Monica. And thank you all. For watching. We had a lot of people come on live, so that was cool. It must be the, just before dinner hour where everybody's got time. So now great. The show's been growing very excited. Hey, we're starting off small. Of course you got to start somewhere.
But it's it's growing quicker than I thought it would. So please subscribe. Please share the show with your friends, everyone, and we will see. Yeah. Next time. Thank you so much for having me. You bet. Monica. Thanks.