Having served in the US Army for 8-years, Lance James, brings valuable experience to the Operation Supply Drop leadership team. Lance has been a member of our Advisory Board for the past two years and has been an active mentor within our community long before that. Never satisfied with the status quo, Lance is stepping up into a leadership role of Development Director for our Supply Drop program. Formally, he will deepen our existing relationships in the Gaming and Entertainment Industry and identify new partners dedicated to a single mission of impacting our active military, veterans and their families. As a member of our leadership team, Lance will also become more involved in mentoring veterans through our Heroic Forces efforts in Southern California and Texas.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Lance to discuss his background, his own challenges as a transitioning veteran as well as what he expects to accomplice in his new role.
Tell us a bit more about your military service background.
I spent eight years in the US Army as an MP (military police). The first three years were Law and Order MP then the final five as a Combat Support MP. I went all around the United States (Ft. Leonard Wood, Ft. Sill, Ft Bliss, Ft. Dix, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Knox, NTC, Ft. Lewis, Ft. Carson and many smaller places). In 2008, I traveled to Mosul, Iraq. While in Iraq, I served as a team leader and safely got my team (and squad) back home all in one piece.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment with in the Army?
The big one that stands out to me is getting my team home all safe and sound. Northern Iraq wasn’t a safe place in 2008 and 2009. We had daily IEDs (improvised explosive devices), gunfights and incoming mortars. Death was a very common thing for us to encounter. Being able to say that we went above and beyond while in country to help people and also brought everyone home safely is something I’m quite proud of sharing.
What took you from the military and professionally into the gaming industry?
I was actually in the gaming industry before the military and still had friends in the industry so when I got out (and finished college) I started looking around for a job. Luckily my friends got me in touch with some people and I quickly found a job back in the industry.
Was your transition difficult? What do you wish you knew then that would have made the process easier?
My transition was actually a bit challenging. I went from being an NCO to being a normal employee with very little say in certain things. I had to learn quickly when and how to speak up. In the military, we use all sorts of endearing words, phrases and curse words that the general civilian population typically frowns upon. I also had to re-engage with some of my actual interpersonal training from my early MP days to better emphasize with my coworkers and bosses. Being able to be “less harsh” and be “less of an asshole” was something that I had to actually re-learn.
What are you most proud of from your time so far in the gaming industry?
I feel like I’ve been able to bring people together to work better as a team. I’ve transitioned to a producer role where I truly feel like my background has given me the tools to help bring together people of various skill sets to accomplish some really amazing things.
What do you most enjoy about being a part of the Operation Supply Drop community?
Our veterans have a history of being forgotten and thrown to the curb. I’m proud to be part of an organization that aims to change that and ensure our veterans have help and better options. Our veterans have very literally signed a contract to defend this nation with their life and I’m extremely honored to be able to continue to help them both while they are in the service and once they get out to ensure that they have the bright future that they deserve.
How does your earned respect in the industry help you to effectively impact veterans?
The gaming industry is certainly a small world and I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of very talented people from all over the world and in various parts of this industry. I’m always happy to help bring people together and make things better for everyone. I’ve been able to that thus far just based on the people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with thus far but once you factor in the fact that this is a small industry and that people do talk about the awesome things we’re doing then it really comes full circle when people reach out asking how they can help us. You’ve been involved in Operation Supply Drop’s Teams program and seen the output of the community service efforts – how important is it for veterans to continue to serve in their communities?
Veterans have a unique perspective on life as they have often first hand seen what other parts of the world and other people live like. It’s important that we (as Veterans) continue to share our stories and share our experiences with the community at large so that those personal experiences help influence people’s mind about not only the world at large, but also who Veterans truly are. Often times Veterans have this negative stigma associated with them (things such as damaged goods or mentally unstable) however I’ve often heard and seen instances where people were working hand in hand with veterans and they didn’t even notice. It’s important to show future generations that being a Veteran is something to be proud of and not something to be ashamed of. Getting out in to the community and showing people that Veterans are just everyday people is a key cog in that process.
Welcome to the team, Lance.