Meet Matt Louis
Mahatma Ghandi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Matt Louis seems to live by that motto. Here’s how.
Matt is a Cincinnati native and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. After 25 years in the Army on both active and reserve rosters, he clearly knows the meaning of commitment, but perhaps his greatest opportunity to be of service is happening now, seven years after he retired from the military. Matt has found the resources and passion to help other veterans position themselves for success through his book, Mission Transition, a practical guide for veterans in transition from military to civilian life.
Leaving the military – now what?
After leaving the army, Matt realized that the government’s version of transition training, while well-intended, left him and his fellow veterans fending for themselves much more than anticipated. Deciding what career path to follow is just one challenge. Networking and finding job opportunities another. Then there’s orchestrating a resume’ that stands out; feeling prepared and confident in an interview; acclimating to a non-military organization’s culture and so much more. As he started to find solutions to his own issues, Matt decided to reach out to others who were also transitioning to offer some guidance. He typically received two types of feedback from his fellow veterans; (1) “Thank you!” and (2) “You should write a book.”
Matt says, “Think of our veterans as displaced workers to the tune of 250,000 per year. The armed forces spend countless hours turning civilians into soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but barely any time turning them back into productive citizens.”
Mission Transition was written to fill that void.
Not exactly black and white
Adjusting to civilian life is far from being black and white. It can be very subjective and no two veterans see things the same way. Matt says there can be a level of frustration and even punishment for veterans trying to figure it out by themselves, and that we should not expect every military service member to instinctively know how to adapt and thrive. Something like a field guide and some time-tested pointers, he indicates, would at least let veterans know they aren’t alone. Mission Transition intentionally serves that purpose.
Matt is more than a little bit excited about the opportunity to help his fellow service men and women. As he puts it: “To be of service means something different to everybody, but isn’t it our duty, maybe even a privilege to do something today that benefits another human being? To me, being of service means you receive more than you give.”
Just for fun
Q: Have you seen progress in the transition process?
A: Yes. For example, my employer, Deloitte, focuses part of their interview process specifically on veterans. They realize the untapped potential in these individuals and even purchase copies of the book for them.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Cincinnati? What do you love there?
A: Orchids is one of my favorites. Also, Thai Namtip. My kids like some of our Cincinnati favorites like LaRosa’s & Skyline.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in your community?
A: Bron Bacevich. He was a high school Hall of Fame coach at Roger Bacon. Bron was not about winning football but rather instilling values in young men to have them go on to be valuable adults.
Q; If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would it be?
A: Anywhere with my kids and family. Hawaii was our favorite so far.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: The Band of Brothers mini-series. I think they (Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks) capture the essence of camaraderie.
Q: What about a book?
A: Tribe, by Sebastian Junger, a book that explores our instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding.
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: My dad always said: “Good, better, best; never let it rest until your good gets better and your better gets best!” Buddy LaRosa actually has this in his stores.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: Taking the kids overseas to broaden their understanding of the diversities of our world.
Q: What is your favorite music?
A: Classic rock is the best! The Who, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Beatles. I am an audiophile.
Q: What makes you most nostalgic about Cincinnati?
A: The Reds.
Q: What historic figure would you choose to have lunch with?
A: Abraham Lincoln. He faced unprecedented times, like we are now.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I picture having lots of traction on my books and the purpose they serve to solve the civil military gap. I envision the military and our civilian employers far more tuned into the transition process recognizing what our veterans have to offer. The result will be that our employers will be getting more productive people and the employees will realize their greatest potential.
Q: What comes to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Family & Community. Visually when I think of home, I think of that powerful first impression of our skyline as it emerges on the drive home through the cut in the hill.
Q: What do you do for you?
A: I exercise. I enjoy good wine. I collect baseball cards.
Matt continues to work hard for his fellow American veterans. His knowledge, passion and consideration are the very fiber that makes our country the strongest in the world. Don’t forget to thank a veteran!