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LT. COL. JUSTIN CONSTANTINE

January 8, 2019

 
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Ep. 6: Wounded Warrior Lt. Col Justin Constantine: A Portrait Of Courage

January 8, 2019

Justin Constantine is a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps and a former attorney. He deployed to Iraq as a Civil Affairs officer attached to a Marine infantry battalion for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is now an inspirational speaker, author, corporate coach and leadership consultant.

About this Episode:

Carly sits down with Lt. Col. Justin Constantine to discuss his injury, recovery, the lessons he learned and how he uses his experience to lift others up.


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About the Guest:

Lt. Col. Justin Constantine

Justin joined the Marine Corps while in law school at the University of Denver School of Law, and served on active duty as a JAG officer for six years. Then as a Reservist, Justin deployed to Iraq in 2006, serving as a Civil Affairs Team Leader while attached to an infantry battalion. During a combat patrol, Justin was shot in the head by a sniper.

Although the original prognosis was that he had been killed in action, Justin survived thanks to risks taken by his fellow Marines and a courageous Navy Corpsman. In fact, when Corpsman Grant first rolled Justin over, he was no longer breathing. For his service in Iraq, Justin earned the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

 
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SHOW NOTES:

 

Today’s example, a Portrait of Courage

Carly introduces us to today’s example: Lieutenant Colonel Justin Constantine [0:36]

  • The first time Carly saw Lieutenant Colonel Justin Constantine was in President George W. Bush’s “Portraits of Courage” [Check out the book & exhibit here: https://www.bushcenter.org/exhibits-and-events/exhibits/2017/portraits-of-courage-exhibit.html]

  • Lt. Col. Justin Constantine was hit in the head with a sniper’s bullet and made a miraculous recovery - and shares his story of courage on By Example

Deciding against law school and Lt. Col. Justin Constantine’s harrowing injury & incredible rescue [2:43]

Carly and Lt. Col. Justin Constantine do NOT have law school in common [2:43]

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  • Carly quit law school after her first semester

  • Lt. Col. Justin Constantine left law school in his second year to join the Marines; his family has a long history of serving in the military

  • A family friend gave him a copy of James Webb’s book, Fields of Fire, which got him excited about the Marine Corps

  • After he wasn’t selected for an ROTC scholarship, he thought his opportunities to join the military were limited - but a friend in law school told him about a special program for lawyers

  • They called him two months later and said: “Can you get to Quantico in a week?”

Lt. Col. Justin Constantine suffered a serious injury while deployed to Iraq in 2006 [6:36]

  • When he deployed, Lt. Col. Justin Constantine was a team leader with eight Marines on his team; most of his team had already been to Iraq while Lt. Col. Justin Constantine hadn’t

  • The day he was injured was over 100 degrees and they had 65 pounds of protective armor on - and they knew there was a sniper in the area

  • They had a reporter with them and Lt. Col. Justin Constantine warned him to keep walking - to not make himself a target for the sniper

  • Right after that, Lt. Col. Justin Constantine was shot by the sniper and his team came together to save his life, including performing an emergency tracheotomy

  • Years later, he had an opportunity to meet the doctors who operated on him and saved his life

Survivor’s guilt, finding inspiration, and getting painted by the President [13:47]

 Lt. Col. Justin Constantine talks about the immediate aftermath of his injury [13:47]

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  • Initially, Lt. Col. Justin Constantine suffered from survivor’s guilt; he didn’t want anyone to see him while he was injured

  • He was able to get counseling for PTSD through a non-profit called Give an Hour [read more about their incredible work here: https://giveanhour.org/] - which really turned things around for him

  • Many people don’t take advantage of these resources because there is a real stigma around mental health - and, unfortunately, that stigma is supported by researching, including the reluctance of employers to hire veterans

Lt. Col. Justin Constantine still gets mad sitting in traffic like all of us, but he finds inspiration in gratitude [21:09]

  • Lt. Col. Justin Constantine appreciates every minute because he recognizes how instantly everything could have changed

  • He and his wife have a gratitude journal, where they list things they are grateful for - which puts things in perspective

President George W. Bush painted Lt. Col. Justin Constantine for his book [23:35]

  • The fact that the President wanted to paint Lt. Col. Justin Constantine still humbles him

  • Lt. Col. Justin Constantine discusses how well the President captures the essence of the wounded warriors that he paints; the book is a testament to how strong people can be despite tough injuries

Walking the walk, choosing courage, and we all need a little help [26:55]

Leadership is not about title, position or power [26:55]

I don’t want to waste a minute of my life. I’m lucky to still be here because it could’ve changed, gone a different way, but for the grace of God, I’m here.
— Lt. Col. Justin Constantine
  • Leadership is not about the trappings; it’s about inspiring and moving people together to accomplish a mission

  • The leaders Lt. Col. Justin Constantine has most respected - including Colonel Desgrosseilliers in Iraq - have been those who have led “from the front” and truly lived their values

Courage is a choice [31:55]

  • Carly points out that Lt. Col. Justin Constantine has chosen to spend his time lifting others up

  • We don’t control everything that happens to us, but we control how we respond; we control what is in our head and in our heart

Lt. Col. Justin Constantine was supported by many people who bent over backward to help him [34:00]

  • His wife (then girlfriend), Dahlia, put her life on hold for years and dropped out of a PhD program to be with Lt. Col. Justin Constantine

  • He’s been supported by a number of veteran service organizations, too

  • Not everyone has that support network, unfortunately

Discovering true empathy and practical ways to support veterans [37:37]

Lt. Col. Justin Constantine has always had a caring heart, but discovered deep empathy after his injury [37:37]

  • Lt. Col. Justin Constantine has newfound empathy for people he didn’t before - like homeless men he passes on the street in New York

  • As a leader, you need to be interacting with others, knowing them and listening to what they care about

  • We are all in this together

Lt. Col. Justin Constantine tells us how we can help veterans [39:12]

  • If you’re an employer, take the time to learn about the business case for hiring veterans; not because it’s patriotic, but because of the skills veterans bring to the table

  • If you’re not an employer, look for veterans groups that you can support - like the Wounded Warrior Project

 
 

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