Life as a Military Service Member: An Exclusive Interview with Content Creator NickyMGTV

Military life, navy corpsman, NickyMGTV, US Navy -

Life as a Military Service Member: An Exclusive Interview with Content Creator NickyMGTV

Interview with NickyMGTV, HM1, US Navy (2022)
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down, for an extensive interview, with fellow service member and content creator: NickyMGTV. While we did talk for about 4 hours, I condensed the interview into about 20 minutes. He was able to provide a lot of insight and guidance regarding my endeavor into the content creation realm. I utilized some of his knowledge by creating a second channel - in order to deconflict my overall content. This channel will focus specifically on interviews with military service members (Echo 7 Sierra - Interviews). My other channel will focus specifically on military service member’s music reaction and product reviews (Echo 7 Sierra). Thanks, again to Nicky. And, thank you to everyone that has supported me. I truly am grateful and appreciate everyone. 

I'm gonna sip real quick…  my throat got caught up. Sorry. Now you know how it is filming for my own show. I'm just like, “Oh man, good thing I can cut this.”

My name is Nick, I  go by Nicki MGTV on the internet. I am from Maryland, so that's where I grew up. Essentially, the Maryland/Pax River area, if anyone's familiar with that, there's a Naval Air Station there that I grew up near and yeah. What else? Oh, rank. You said E6 - or - I'm an E6! Yeah I'm like, “You said E6.” Ha, no, I'm an E6: HM1, in the Navy. 

What’s the job of an HM1 in the Navy?
I currently am an Independent Duty Corpsman and so a lot of people don't know what that is. If you're a civilian the best thing I can equate it to is like being a physician assistant in the civilian world. I'm able to treat diagnoses, do x-rays, do physical exams. I act like a doctor when there isn't a doctor is the best way to explain it, and obviously my scope is dependent on where I'm at. When it comes down to like, if I’m on a ship by myself in the middle of the ocean, and there's no doctor there, I get to do a lot more; whereas, if I'm in a clinic I'm kind of you know reduced back to doing a lot less but I do have a lot of capabilities. My original MOS is Hospital Corpsman but we specialize from that. I went to pharmacy tech [school]  because my family said, “Get as much free education as possible.” Wasn't a good move, actually. That was not fun. I was good at the job but not what I wanted to do for the Navy. So, then I got to this job, here.

How long have you been in the Navy and where did you enlist?
So, I have been in now 13 and a half years. I joined out of Hope Mills, North Carolina. My dad - or my step-dad, at that time - had gotten a job with BH Systems, down in North Carolina, which made me move down after high school because I had no plans, nowhere to live. So, eventually I was like, “I guess I gotta do something.” I was working at Barnes and Nobles at the base/area there. After that, we ended up having a falling out and  I moved back to Maryland and I shipped out of Pax Rivers Recruiting Station, versus actually the Hope Mills one I actually signed my contract at. So, kind of an interesting story.

Who, or what inspired you to join the military?
I'm one of those people that I didn't understand the military was around me until after the fact because my step-dad was prior Marine Corps, at the time. He was some kind of Aviation, I think he was like a structural mechanic of some kind - some kind of an AM equivalent. Then, my grandfather who was  in the Navy, never talked about it. My grandfather from my mom's side, was in the Air Force, but I  never met the guy. So, [I mean] I have a lineage of military in my family but I didn't ever correlate that because no one ever talked to me about it.

Where have you been stationed?
My first Duty station… I'll kind of start from the top, because I know people don't really count Boot Camp. Cool, Boot Camp. A-school was over there. Then, while I was in A-school, they were like, “Hey, if you get a certain GPA, you can end up going to a C-school.” At that point, I ended up going to Portsmouth, Virginia to be a pharmacy tech. I went there. And, I had always dreamed -as a kid from Maryland, I was a skateboarder - I was like, “I need to go to the ‘MECCA’ of skateboarding.” And, the only place you can go is San Diego. I joined the Navy partially, because San Diego, I knew, was on one of the duty station lists. And, I was like, “That's where I want to end up.” And, I remember they were like, “Okay, well, if you want to go to San Diego, put that on your dream sheet.” So, it popped up, I ended up over there. Then, I was there for four years - did a little stunt for a tour with the USNS (US Naval Ship) Mercy for a little deployment, humanitarian type thing, and then, I went to Rhoda Spain, next. I know everyone's going to be jealous about that. Did that for three years;  went back to San Diego for training for a year and a half - for the job I do now - and then I got orders here to Japan. So, this is where I'm at and I'm about to get out of here soon, too.

Do you have a favorite or least favorite duty station?
I'll say this: I think my favorite duty station has been… probably, Rhoda. I would say because I traveled so much. We went to 20 countries while I was there. I was able to travel every three/four-days we had off, so that's why I enjoyed that. And, I would say that was like my “backpacking” tour. I was not so focused on being in the Navy. 

I'll say that  my least favorite was the San Diego tour and, as much as I loved San Diego and what to do around there, my biggest issues were: my work. I was constantly busy. Just working in the pharmacy there, which is like being in the factory -  it was the most civilian job I could have ever had as my first duty station. So, yeah. 

Who would you consider to be your mentor(s)?
So, my mentors, that have been in the military, have really been for kind of non-traditional purposes. It's been for people that go off the beaten path. I almost don't like the word mentor because I think we we get something from everybody. I would say one person that really rubbed off on me was Senior Chief Josh Beard. A good dude - one of our instructors that I just kind of resonated with and I could tell he thought non-traditionally about the service and what mattered. And, I aligned with some of those values and seeing what was important. I think he embodied that. I think it's okay to kind of do things your own way and not always follow this arbitrary path that somehow everyone thinks we need to take to succeed or make the next rank.

What goals do you have for your career?
I am actually about to re-enlist. Hey, call me crazy, or convince me not to. Essentially, yes: I'm gonna do my 20 years. So, if anyone's watched my content, and this is an exclusive for your channel - I've never talked about this because I feel like it's not about me anymore. Kind of like what we were talking about with your channel: it isn't about you. I was gonna go Officer and commission that route, and I dropped the package. I’ve done it; it wasn't accepted the first time. But, as YouTube has blown up, that has become my passion. They always say, “Once something is your passion, you don't work another day in your life.” I 100% agree with that, you just have to find it and try stuff. And, I tried this.  I'm halfway decent at it and I like doing it. So, that's why.

What inspired you to make this a full time job? 
I've never tried to make this a full-time job it grew in its own right in its own organic way. When I first started watching JT Suits, he had like five- or six-thousand subs, right. I've seen them do all these podcasts with veterans I'm like man this guy's doing a really good thing  about talking about the military and helping people because I felt like even for me I'm gonna date myself saying this but I was on Yahoo ask back in the day asking questions about the military reading forms trying to understand what I was getting into and that was 2008 and I'm seeing this guy still on 2007 or sorry 2017 getting people knowledge about the military I'm like there is a gap here and I realized in 2017 I was hitting eight years at that point and I was like I have a lot of experience I'm not the most experienced but I am experienced enough to to help somebody coming through  and kind of be that middleman that's no bias to being a recruiter and I'm also not the new guy or the old guy that was your uncle that was in 20 years ago so I could kind of talk and you realize what incentive does Nikki have to tell me this information maybe to get views but you know I look at it and tell people if you want views don't talk to one percent of the nation that's the truth  because if you want views I would go to a bigger audience but that's not why I started the channel initial at all. 

A lot of people ask, “How are you able to do YouTube? How is this the case that you're able to make and be able to make this a side gig?” I'm like, I don't do it in uniform; I'm not breaking UCMJ; I'm not doing any of that. I've talked to Legal. I've done these things to make sure that I am in the guidelines and it's very black-and-white. But, people wonder how I'm able to do this, and I'm like I also cite sources, if I'm covering some information, and usually if I'm covering what something that is seen unfavorably, I could be like, “Well, this is what these people here are saying, this is not what I'm reflecting.” I think a lot of people respected that because they're like you're trying to actually report. Sometimes you feel like you're being told a certain story that you want to be told a certain way, and so I try to stay as central as possible but that's difficult sometimes. I will go a little more right, or to the left, or you know… wherever I'm trying to hit.

How do you juggle being Active Duty and creating content? 
That's funny because people don't realize when something's your passion, you're going to give every ounce of your time or energy to that. So, for me making the videos is the passion. A lot of people are like, “What's the new episode of this, or that, or what video game are you playing?” I'm not playing any video games. The only thing I want to do is make a video. I am literally sitting there, almost at least every other night, probably sitting down writing a script, producing it, editing, filming. All that stuff… making thumbnails. And, people are always like - well couldn't you Outsource it? And, you could, but for me, I just really enjoy the process of making a video and that's kind of hard because I eventually need to give that up. At some point, I gotta figure out how to do that.

Who is a guest that you would like to have on your channel?
I've always wanted to pick the brain of Admiral [William H.] McRaven. The Navy SEAL officer who was in charge of all the Navy Seals, at one point. He was known for that famous speech about “making your bed every day.” I would like to talk to him. My other person would be Captain [Brett] Crozier, the one that was relieved off the [USS] Theodore Roosevelt. I don't think I will be able, based on the political atmosphere around that. Maybe for several years. Yeah, those are the two people I'd like to have on.

You’ve covered topics such as, “Marine Corps is the Best Branch”, “Quality of Living Between Branches”, “WWI with Iran”... What’s next?
As far as content goes, I'm still going to continue doing [military] news. I think, as I progress forward, I would like to do news beyond the military. I mean that's something that I think I'm good at. I've said I'm good at [it]. But, I think I could definitely cover other aspects that are thought provoking or critical thinking; and, looking at the way the world is through my lens, I guess, of what I'm seeing and kind of pose good questions and give a thought-provoking perspective.

What is something that your juniors would quote you saying?
Oh… [laughter] My juniors probably say… I… What do I say all the time… [pause] Probably, “I don't know if you've seen I made a video about: [this].” Then, I will interject with, “Because, a lot of stuff I talk about on the channel makes it into the video.” Also, my personal life and you know I think my channel right now encapsulates a lot of..  just what we would naturally do anyway, is, “talk shop.” Kind of bounce off ideas and bounce off you know what's happening in the service because it is a living breathing organization that whether we like to believe it or not has changed. There's a reason why everyone says, “Back in my day…”

Cold Pressed Bricks: Affiliate Sponsor
Oh… this is the Cold Pressed Bricks! Here we are - Donny's company. I feel bad about your audio setup. [I’ll pick] Blueberry Fields. This is for you, Donny. Look at it, right there. No, I appreciate it. Thank you. It means a lot, man.

Speaking of DWKVideos… will you ever be featured there?
Maybe, I don't know. I don't think so. I think those are typically reserved for someone that is either dancing in uniform, or something of that context. I don't dance and I don't do anything really in uniform. So, I don't think I'll make it, to be honest.

How do you feel about service members using their uniform to gain viewers/interest?
Oh, man… This is a can of worms, man! This is a can of worms! For me. Do I hate that they use a uniform? No, because I understand it provides a message very simply, very quickly, “I'm in the military. I have some experience, and this is what I'm doing”. Right? So, I can kind of speak from that perspective, and in the world of social media, everyone's based on credibility and clout and things like that. So, it provides a very quick snapshot of credibility, so I understand why it's used. What I really love is when [they] watch my channel, I am Nicky. I'm not the guy that's wearing the uniform. I'm not the guy that's being known as HM1. People, you know, as they dig through, they'll probably see that but that is not what I present first. I present I'm a person and come at you at a humanistic level and I think that's how I lead, as well. I always tell people, “If you're leading from your rank, you're already leading from the wrong place.” That's my mindset.

Do you contribute to your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?
I love that you asked me this question. I max out my tsp every year, now. C- and S-Fund, let's go! That's where I'm at. A lot of people are overwhelmed by it. I love the tsp because, it's almost like the Dummy’s Guide to Being a Millionaire, in my opinion. I'm like, “You have your military retirement.” If you're an old guy like us - going to get the high three - right? I tell people, I'm like you're gonna get that. That's a guarantee. Plus, some kind of disability on top of that… you're working another job, get risky with this money so it can grow. It's shown it's growing and just do not stop. I always have my juniors, people that are not appropriately, on my risk level, not appropriately where they should be. I kind of just -  I don't ever push them to move their money anywhere but I showed them my results. I'm like, “This is what I've done. These are the different types of funds. I'll show you, historically speaking, you've lost this much money by keeping it in the G fund.” And, they're like, “Oh…” and the light goes off. They're like, “I need to move this money somewhere else now.” I'm like, “Yeah. I'm trying to help you out” 

I've had a couple people that have taken my “non-financial advice” and moved their stuff, and they've been very happy. Again, I just it's all risk tolerant and what you're willing to do. But, yeah I do max out my TSP.

I mean my junior guys… I get it that it's overwhelming. They're just trying to balance addition and subtraction in their checking account. If we can get past the addition/subtraction of you not blowing your money on booze, or whatever the newest PlayStation game is, we can get you in a better position. So, I tell a lot of my guys, I'm like, “Get me to where you have zero debt, 36 months of expenses, and  I will make you a lot better than where you thought you would be leaving the military.” So, a lot of people don't understand: It's not rocket science but you're gonna relearn TSP, probably 10 times, before you find they're like I can teach this to someone else. That's my thought process. 

How do you end an interview?
I would say this: To end an interview is the idea that the interview could be continued. That's what I'd say because, literally, I don't think this is the first time we're gonna cross paths. I think it should be more. It should be more than once. So again, stay tuned for the next time because it's gonna be a “next time.” You're gonna subscribe for “next time.” Right? I’d say that works out.

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