By John Fullilove, jacksons.tv
jacksons.tv: What were some of the values that you developed at the Naval Academy and serving your country in the Marine Corps?
Brian Stann: ‘Going to the Naval Academy obviously --values are a very big part of our development and training. Part of their (Academy) creed: Morally, Physically and Mentally but really they focus a lot on character and integrity, having the right morals and being a person who does what they say they’re going to do. That’s part of being a man of character and a man of integrity. It really matches and is hand in hand with what the Marine Corps is all about – honor, courage and commitment in our character development. It’s really stressed in the Marine Corps Combat Program as well, which I
obviously have a strong background in. It’s really just part of my life. It was really a huge part of my life for nine years when I was in the military. It’s been imbued in me. I’ve tried to become a better person throughout the years and looking back doing a lot of reflecting inside to make sure I’m the man that I’ve been trained to be and the man that I want to be, ultimately, not just for sports but more so for my family.
jacksons.tv: How did you see those values expressed in Iraq when you were deployed among your fellow Marines and how you conducted yourself and how you served?
Brian Stann: You see those values every day there. One, as a leader of Marines, you have to have character and integrity. So, when you’re planning a mission and your briefing your mission, you have to give your Marines the reason why you came up with certain things, the reasons why you made certain decisions you did. Some of the decisions you are going to make in Iraq are going to result in the death or wounds or some of your Marines. You have to own up to them. You have to explain why. You have to be a person of character. If you don’t have character and you have to point the finger at someone else or you try and blame your Marines for something that they didn’t do, you’re not going to last long. You’re going to get fired. We will absolutely police our own and there is no place for people who don’t have honor and integrity in the Marine Corps. Absolutely no place. That is just a given and is expected.
jacksons.tv: What is the role of sacrifice within your team and country in combat or the armed forces?
Brian Stann: The role of sacrifice is tremendous. Sometimes we even call it suffering. You are going to spend long amounts of time away from your family. A lot of people see that time away from your family as time spent in Iraq or Afghanistan but the fact of the matter is that while you’re training for the 7 or 9 months leading up to leaving for Iraq or Afghanistan, you’re not home very much. You’re in the field training 24/7. We go to work on Monday and we don’t come home till Friday. We stay out in the woods and field, away from our family. The entire time that you’re in a deploying unit is a huge sacrifice. That is just on your loved ones. Your personal life is pretty much non-existent at that time. Everything you’re focusing on and everything in your life is completely geared towards that deployment and your performance and your leadership in combat. Everything is for your Marines. Really, your life has one single purpose – there really is no room for anything else. So, it’s a huge sacrifice.
jacksons.tv: Do you see those same type of values expressed in the person you are today in terms of what you are trying to accomplish in MMA or with your team here at Jackson’s?
Brian Stann: Yes. I do see those values. I hope and I try. Like I said, nobody is perfect and I do a lot of reflecting and making sure I’m doing that. I try to bring those values to the gym in my efforts to try to help my teammates. There are certain areas physically that maybe I can’t help guys with who are at such a high level but maybe there are some areas that I can help them with like dealing with the pressure that they are having put on them by the media and the fans or just the mental side of the game and really learning actually how to enjoy the fight. Because when you take a step back and look at the big picture, it’s not the end of the world. You can go into a fight so uptight that you fight uptight and you don’t fight your game, but if you’re more relaxed and loose you’ll fight better. I try to bring some of that to the game. Also, with me being a person of integrity, I think sometimes the entertainment industry and with professional athletics we see guys that get caught similar to the Tiger Woods incident where they didn’t have integrity or honor. I think it’s important for guys to have that because you are in the public eye and like it or not, you are going to be a role model.
jacksons.tv: How do you reconcile your values that you have described with being a Martial Arts centered warrior , an athlete and being in MMA which is just as much about the entertainment industry as it is about sports?
Brian Stann: I don’t know if they ever truly reconcile. I think it all takes care of itself if you’re consistently trying to be the person you want to be and be the man or woman you want to be. I think it will all fall into place. If you have honor and integrity then you are going to have it everywhere. Integrity is all about doing the right thing when no one is atching. So if you can do the right thing when no one is looking, then it’s easy to do the right thing when the cameras are on and everyone is watching you. So, if you are doing the wrong thing when everyone is watching then you’re probably really out of whack with your morals and values. I think it’s easy to make all three combined if you truly have honor and integrity.
jacksons.tv: So do you think some of those values are an anachronism today in American society or do you see those being what America is about?
Brian Stann: Great question. Unfortunately no, I don’t think those values are what America is about currently. The reason I say that is because of our current leadership in Washington. I think we’ve been fed a lot of BS, fed a lot of lies. I think the current administration has done a lot talking but has not done a lot of explaining. We are not getting a lot of the “why” things are being done. Ok, there’s a stimulus package but how is it really going to work and how will I, as a common man, going to understand that. There are thousands of pages of a document and there’s no way a common blue collar worker is going to understand all of that. I would like to see honor and integrity to be more part of our daily practice for the leadership of this country. I think the people in this country are fed up. I think the values are in strong practice with people of this country but not in our leadership.
jacksons.tv: Can you describe your goals concerning your activities with veterans?
Brian Stann: The goal for Hire Heroes USA is to help our veterans with their career transition. So when they are getting out of the military, and they are now looking to succeed in the civilian world, we are trying to help them with that. Some of the goals are twofold: One is to help those veterans prepare and understand what they need to do to be competitive, because it is a competitive world and secondly, to educate American employers as to the value of veterans, how they can be an assets to any business owner, large company, government agency, anything. Talking to them about the values these warriors have been imbued with and how they can be an asset to any company regardless of their current skill set because the men and women can be trained. They are used to a training environment, and they can learn new skills. You can’t necessarily teach someone in the civilian world honor and integrity and things of that nature. If you become a middle aged person and you don’t have honor and integrity, it will be very difficult for you to find that.
jacksons.tv: Concerning veterans, do you think the nature and intensity of the recent conflicts are different than the conflicts that have preceded these most recent ones or are they similar?
Brian Stann: No, I think they are very different. I think as the world evolves, every conflict evolves and is different. Obviously, when you look back at World I and World War II, those were very catastrophic and you see things from movies that have done a real good job of mimicking them and that is about as intense as you’re going to get when you’re losing 15 to 20,000 people in a day. A lot of people try to make comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq /Afghanistan, but they are really different. A lot of the warriors in Vietnam would be in combat for a couple of days or couple of weeks and were pulled out for a couple of months. For the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, “it’s day on stay on”. You’re going from 7 months to a year and a half. You’re patrolling the streets every single day. The new tactics in this insurgent warfare and the utilization of improvised explosive devices have brought a paradigm shift to warfighting in general. It’s another layer we have to tactically worry about. On top of it, the counter insurgency operations, where the warrior doesn’t have to have his main focus on the enemy but more on the populace, makes it very stressful. You are asking 22 year old men and women and sometimes 19 and 18 year old men and women to make life and death decisions in a matter of 2 or 3 seconds but also have to factor in collateral damage. Sometimes, they are losing their lives in sacrifice of the civilian populace that they’re there to protect. I’d love to see other people try to explain to an 18, 19 or 20 year old kid why his friend just died rather than take a chance and killing a local civilian. Why the mission is the way it is. So it makes it difficult for everyone involved. Bringing that back to Hire Heroes USA, anybody who is a civilian employer who doesn’t think that veterans are capable of big things in the civilian world are out of their minds! They (veterans) have made the hardest decisions they have ever had to make. They have had more responsibilities levied on them in the past 5 or 6 years than anybody could every levy on them. I’m never going to have a job that is as difficult as the one that I have had before, never.
jacksons.tv: How do you feel about your upcoming fight?
Brian Stann: I feel great. I feel this is my best camp to date. I couldn’t be more confident in my coaching staff and my training partners that I have around me. I’m constantly, constantly learning new things every single day in every facet of the game. I feel great for the fight. The weight cut is going tremendously. I’m going to be a bigger, stronger guy in there for 185. And right now, this fight is mine to win. If I do what I’ve been trained to do, then I’m going to win the fight. If I allow him to do what he’s been trained to do, then I’m going to lose the fight. I’m very confident going in.
jacksons.tv: Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge?
Brian Stann: The biggest thing I want to acknowledge is my charity Hire Heroes USA. I’m the Executive Director, and I run this charity but when I come out here to conduct my fighting camps, my staff and my employees really carry a heavy load. They do a great job in my absence. They understand how I, running the charity, and my fighting go hand in hand. We can use my fighting career as a platform to talk about veteran issues and I just love every one of them. They really do an amazing job. It certainly is more than a 9 to 5 with all the work they are doing.