Goat Wrestling Perseverance

Episode 29 - 9/11 is a day that brought us together as humans with CEO Joe Quinn and host Dave Swanson

June 13, 2019 Dave Swanson / Joe Quinn Season 2 Episode 29
Goat Wrestling Perseverance
Episode 29 - 9/11 is a day that brought us together as humans with CEO Joe Quinn and host Dave Swanson
Chapters
Goat Wrestling Perseverance
Episode 29 - 9/11 is a day that brought us together as humans with CEO Joe Quinn and host Dave Swanson
Jun 13, 2019 Season 2 Episode 29
Dave Swanson / Joe Quinn

Joe Quinn is the Executive Director of the Headstrong Project. Previously, he was the Director of Leadership Development for Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB). Before Team RWB, he was an Instructor in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point and an Associate at the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC).  Joe also worked in Afghanistan as a Counterinsurgency Advisor for General David Petraeus’ Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT). He spent six years in the United States Army, where he served two deployments to Iraq. Joe received a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Joe graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002, where he played on the basketball team. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, although he currently lives in Manhattan with his wife Melanie and one year-old daughter Beckett with a baby boy on the way. He’s also an amateur writer and a professional Mets fan.

Donate

Dave Swanson

Website

Book 

Goat Wrestling Perseverance Clothes 

Free Chapter of my Bestselling Book? 

Show Notes Transcript

Joe Quinn is the Executive Director of the Headstrong Project. Previously, he was the Director of Leadership Development for Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB). Before Team RWB, he was an Instructor in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point and an Associate at the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC).  Joe also worked in Afghanistan as a Counterinsurgency Advisor for General David Petraeus’ Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT). He spent six years in the United States Army, where he served two deployments to Iraq. Joe received a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Joe graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2002, where he played on the basketball team. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, although he currently lives in Manhattan with his wife Melanie and one year-old daughter Beckett with a baby boy on the way. He’s also an amateur writer and a professional Mets fan.

Donate

Dave Swanson

Website

Book 

Goat Wrestling Perseverance Clothes 

Free Chapter of my Bestselling Book? 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/GWPPodcast)

Dave Swanson:

Welcome to goat wrestling perseverance podcast. They had a guest that is the executive director of headstrong project. He's not only doing that, but he was once that director of leadership for team red, white and blue and a classmate of mine and was in the same company where he also played division one basketball. And if you think about other things that he's been doing, he's also a writer and what he claims to be a professional mets fan. This is Joe Quinn, executive director of headstrong. So Joe, thanks for being on the show today,

Joe Quinn:

Dave. Thanks for having me.

Dave Swanson:

All right. As go wrestling, perseverance, we just jumped right to the story. And so Joe, I think I know the story pretty well and so I'm excited to share it with the audience. Definitely. I first want to thank, thank Dave on a number of fronts that we w uh, classmates at west point.

Joe Quinn:

Um, and okay. Yeah. Uh, h to go hammer, happiest child. We had a bunch of nicknames. I had one of the highest GPA as many, the really down by my, by my nice. So, um, I think Dave was many always checking in to see if I needed any today and your help to help raise a cup of the GAA GPA. So I apologize for that and appreciate the hell.

Joe Quinn:

All right. Yeah. Okay. You know, the kind of get into, you know, I know this, we talk about perseverance, you know, on the, on this podcast. So, you know, I was recruited to play basketball at West Point 1998 and you were Oh, it by looking at, yeah. But recruiting, recruiting people like Joe Quinn probably led to 28 losing seasons at, at less point. But that's a whole other thing. MMM. But you know, again, I, I chose West Point, I got to play basketball. I get that you get a great education. Uh, in 1998, the program view was we wouldn't be at war, uh, anytime soon. You know, who, who had this kind of thing. Um, and it wasn't tool are senior year. MMM. That night. Okay. Um, and I remember in class and I, you know, it two, uh, west point, it's like, and amazed everybody, you see the same people passing at the same time. It, everybody's walking very swiftly. I remember after class, everyone seemed to be a little off, you know, everyone was a little, everyone was talking into each other and mumbling to each other. I had no idea what was going on. And then I climbed the six flights of stairs too, my barracks room at Bradley Long. And I remember heading to my room, my roommate Joe Pepper said, you know, Quinny the, the world trip, better fire turn on the television. Um, from there I turn on the television in my room and I saw the, you know, the twin or is um, you know, kind of burning like smokestack. They were still in the air. And I remember thinking for the first time, um, that, um, it didn't look that bad, you know, because the comparison to the top powers, they just seem to be little holes. And then everything sort of all from there quickly got the phone call from my mother and she's watching this and I said yes. And she says, can you believe it? You know, the, the World Trade Center attack we're at, we're at war, we're at war. And my son's at West Point, he is going to go to uh, or uh, not even thinking that my brother Jimmy would be harmed who was, um, on the hundred second floor of the north salad at the time. Um, and then quickly evolved to see her trying to get, and all the phone lines were down and the south tower collapsed. And then not knowing the south tower that collapsed in the north tower that collapsed. And, um, watching the order collapse was probably the worst moment of my entire life because my life just collapsed with it. Where my, my brother Jimmy was, was never found t he perished with uh, or 57 of his coworkers. I can a, and he was 23 years old just out of Manhattan College. We were more than brothers. We were bumped into her best friends. And it just was a weird moment of, you know, we're life before and after. And it's funny this point, I don't know if they made us do next. And I think most of us have index cards of our master goals. And I had a, you know, a modest goal of getting a 3.0 GPA that semester and, um, you know, winning some basketball games or the basketball team and Maxine the APF d. And I remember staring at that car thinking that this is all meaningless now. You know, it's just really changes your perspective that about the meaning of life and the things that you want to achieve. You know, maximizing a PT test seems just completely worthless compared to what was going on. So, you know, I'll kind of, you know, and here, you know, cause there's a lot to sort of pick out, you know, as I went forward with my time in the military, um, but I, you know, I eventually go home, um, and uh, seven to 10 days and we were looking for my brother and um, but eventually, you know, less points that they home forever, they call the back. Um, and I question my cup by my basketball coach, you know, maybe you should leave west point and take a semester off. And you know, to my professors it was obvious that I didn't really, um, you know, my is at that point in my life, uh, you know, after everything happened, um, but I, I remember, uh, you know, getting back to west point and we had a memorial to my brother, a thousands of people showed up, but are being back at west point being by the statute. Uh, I remember asked self, I was sort of very emotional and upset and I remember asking myself, you know, as you know, basically two choices, either just crash and burn, you know, equipped go home, get back across, drink and do drugs and be upset and all the things. And guess what that will look at you and go, did you hear what happened to his brother? Like I feel bad for him. That makes sense. Um, and you know, more experienced loss or traumatized or shame or guilt, that's, that's an option that, you know, something where people would look at that and say is struggling or going through that. Um, and then, but then the other option on a persevere to try to wake up and try to get the class, try to graduate and try to join the army and do something about it. Um, and this is going to sound very cynical, but I drew a lot of shrink from this. Um, either way going to care. And that sounds a lot more cynical than I want it to be in that if I went down that uh, you know, would go off, you know, I feel bad for jelly law rather, but any, then, you know, people go back to their, let's say they had their own families, they have to go up, show up to work, they have to go on and eventually they, they're people are empathetic and then eventually people go on with their lives. So, so it was that, that path and that decision that in a cloud it became very black and white and two paths emerge. And I tried my damnedest and very in perfectly to persevere and get to a point where I didn't go down that other paths to, to, to eventually graduate and deployed the wars and get to the point where I am now

Dave Swanson:

in the midst of nine 11 talking about the importance of that, you know, for me, I remember going to class right after, I think the class was at 10 30 and I remember asking the instructor, she was a civilian instructor and I asked her, we need to watch what's going on. This is, this is our life, right? Just like you understood this is, this is what's going to affect us for the next six years, you know, at least that you know, the time we serve and we had a test the next day, I remember this and she actually said we have more important things to do and she was talking about a test the next day and it was so irrelevant and you start to realize it was irrelevant to her because she was never going to have to go out and fight these people. She was never going to have to go out into the bottle filled and do all the things that we ended up doing and deployments and everything else. And it's just so funny that perspective that people have for not understanding what we go through. And so, um, talk a little bit about that. You know, like, you know, you talked a little bit about the difference of perspectives, but really your perspective right out of the gate as a first year was completely different. But I would say our entire class

Joe Quinn:

definitely. And that's kind of why I do what I currently do because for our class, for everyone that was in the military before, during, or it's the reason they signed up was because of that day. All our lives changed one way or another, you know, and, and no one, um, you know, whether you lost a brother, not no one owns that day and where their lives went because of that day. Right. And, uh, to me, it's interesting you say that because, um, because we all felt it. It wasn't just Joe Quinn, you know, like you all the ramifications of that day. MMM. And it's interesting you say that because you know, people that don't know where it's a college, right? Like you go to class, you take math, science. So you know, to a certain extent, mmm. For teachers that they're, you know, they're, they're salaried professors that need to teach them. Jack will so much go on, but it's, it's amazing how, maybe it's the, the discipline of right. Of West Point. But if you talk to our civilian counterparts and siblings, schools, you know, a lot of them talk about where they were that day and they were in class. Either everything was canceled or they turn on the television and that's all they talked about debt. Right. You know, it's, so, it's interesting that here we are as good at that we are going to be directly impacted by these events. Uh, but you know, we're told to sort of March on and yeah. You know, concentrate on DDS or I'm native American literature class or whatever. And those are all important things and subjects, you know, validate. Uh, but the, the civilian counterparts that perhaps we're not B okay. Directly affected by it, you know, they kind of pause for a day or a week or even a month to really reflect John, uh, the ramifications of that day and what it meant for all of us.

Dave Swanson:

Yeah. You, I'll bring up a story that I got to get the privilege of going to the Yankees home opener the next year in 2002. And, uh, another friend of mine, uh, we were also at raising the flag, you know, during the national anthem. It was with Rudy Giuliani, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto. And it was, uh, an amazing experience. And you say, you know, some people really, you know, they, they were flags, we were proud. They had all these sayings. And I'll tell you what, I mean, that's a good, uh, you know, five months, six months later and everywhere we walked with and Cadet uniform was nothing about thank you for your service. People buy everything. If I could actually drink beer in uniform while I was going to the Yankees game, and I know you're a mets fan, but they were buying, they were, they were all about and supporting that. And so those were older folks, so maybe, you know, we're talking about maybe the younger folks that are just graduating from college, but the sense of pride, I think I felt, you know, walking around in uniform at that time made me really think about previous wars and Vietnam and other places where we've been, and the support just wasn't there. And so I don't know. Did you feel that way as well? Like the, this enormous pride to be able to go on and put on your uniform and be out there and serving? Yup,

Joe Quinn:

definitely. I mean, I'm sorry that you had to endure. Yeah. As a mets fan, it's just crushed it. He's last night, but that's another, that's another story. But, um, yeah, I, you know, I wrote an article a couple of years back. Yeah, yeah. Weeks and months following nine 11. MMM. We're probably the worst of my life, but at the same time, uh, an important part of me misses those days because there was this unity, this pride as New Yorkers, uh, you know, as Americans, us, right. Learn having each other's back. Um, and then, you know, how long that would last is, you know, that's, it didn't last. They, it really petered out over time. Wow. Point. Or, you know, John Stewart, it's the congress went viral. Yes. About, you know, we can't even pass a bill to get healthcare our love in first funders, you know. Oh, I do remember am it was a point of pride and a point where, well, you know, okay, sure. Brothers and sisters and fellow Americans. Um, and you know, I think we could still capture that and bring that back. You know, and that's, you know, I think looking forward is, you know, the more and more conversations we could have left message out, we're more, we are different. Okay.

Dave Swanson:

Yeah. Yeah. You know, I would say talking about what you're doing next and establishing this sense of pride for our veterans that have served, you know, that for those in the audience that don't know about headstrong project and what you're doing, you know, you're, you're putting together is kind of service that is lacking from the VA perspective. Lacking for how many veterans out there that need some kind of development in some, you know, counseling, you know, with posttraumatic stress disorder and you're doing amazing things by getting people to be a part of this program. Can you talk a little bit more about what's going on next with headstrong and what you're currently doing?

Joe Quinn:

Okay. Way, you know, George Stuart had a bunch of firefighters and first responders. Okay. Mm. Um, it congress, you know, we could, yeah. We could have had tens of thousands of veterans behind us. Um, you know, asking for, uh, societal and yeah. Government support, uh, to heal the hidden wounds of war and MMM. Mental health and suicide. It's a society problem. It's just not just the VA problem. Um, it's not just veterans that are struggling, but it's youth. Hello generations. It's, you know, everyone is kind of going through it. So, you know, we, we have at headstrong, a bold but very simplistic and executable generational vision, mmm. To save as many veterans as possible on our way to ending veteran suicide. And it's, it's very simple. There are 10 of best in class private clinicians with 10 years of trauma experience across the country. And there is a veteran that lives in need that has PTSD, depression, substance abuse issues, whatever it might be that live within a mile that clinician and, and that, that clinician in that veteran or not talking right. And to me that is what gets my blood boiling and gets people passionate about solving this issue. You know, and it's threefold. For us, the strategy for our vision is three fold. It's one, it's breaking down the stigma, you know, you know, as you know, gave a lot of, you know, our colleagues, yes. Former soldiers, you know, trying to break down that stigma, that mental health is the same thing is has any helps if you twisted your ankle or you had a cold, what do you do? What do you do? You go to the doctor. It's the same thing with mental health issues. If you can't sleep or um, you know, you're having certain, um, you know, issues with your mental health, you go see your head doctor, you go see just to go see a therapist. And it's fixable, the right cares, you know, PTSD is extremely fixable. Um, so get it breaking through that stigma as one, a second, access, any access to access to effective care. And I think that's where we really crush it. I've headstrong is we feel the hidden wounds of war because it's bureaucracy free. It's costs free, confidential and it's effective mental health, uh, uh, healthcare that that's tailor made to the veteran. 47% of our clients have complex trauma, whether it's trauma, previous, the military, what did you and child, and we're kind of treating the whole veteran and their family to get to them to that, to that point. Uh, and then the last is going to be education. . Training and collaboration, MMM. To help not only connect with those best in class clinicians to train and provide more of them, particularly in, in, in rural, rural areas. So, um, it's an extremely fixable problems. Headstrong is currently serving over a thousand veterans with 200 clinicians in 25 cities across the country, you know, over 26,000 a therapy, you know, hours. Um, and then, you know, the kind of bring it full circle. I mean, the way I view it, mmm. You know, we've had over 7,000 casualties. We've had tens of thousands of physically it and hundreds of thousands that are suffering the invisible wounds of war because of nine 11 and be cost of that day. And that's my passion for that, for that mission of Dave Swanson Service and so many others, um, who've served and been through traumatic experiences and war because of that day. I'm the same way. We owe nine 11 first responders we owe to our veterans to give them the best in class mental health services.

Dave Swanson:

Well, Joe, thanks for sharing your story today and thanks for doing what you're currently doing with headstrong and the episode details will be a way to donate, to be able to find out more about headstrong and just want to say thank you for being on the show today.

Joe Quinn:

No problem. Hey guys, I really appreciate it and I looked over to see you again soon.