Creating a resume is never fun or easy, especially when you’re trying to translate military skills into something that’s appealing to the average civilian. Sometimes, reaching the point of no return is all it takes to come across a spark of genius.
“At that point in time, I had written over a hundred resumes,” Eric Miller, Coffee or Die Magazine staff writer, said. “I saw the job listing for Coffee or Die, I knew that I could write [...] and after all, a resume is a representation of yourself. So I thought that, if nothing else, maybe they’ll laugh. I wasn’t really expecting much beyond that, you know, I figured an HR person would email me back and say ‘that was funny dude.’”
Photo courtesy of Eric Miller.
Prior to his resume going viral, Miller served four years in the Army as a combat medic.
“From as far back as I can remember, I had planned on being in the military,” Miller said. “I had drawings of myself in the Army in kindergarten.”
Miller was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, and deployed with 2-10 Aviation Battalion Pathfinders, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, to Forward Operating Base Shank from 2013 to 2014. His unit spent most of their time downrange focused on downed-aircraft recovery missions, and when they weren’t on a mission, they were “smashing rocks with their foreheads,” as Miller put it.
“I was in pretty good shape, but even in my short time in the Army, I noticed physical health problems,” Miller said. “I was getting hurt, sick, fatigued, and was constantly afraid of getting med-boarded because [for me] there’s literally nothing worse than failure. I was serving at a time when everyone was on the chopping block and was genuinely afraid that I was going to be one of them, so I pushed through my time, and when the time came to choose between reenlistment or not, I got out. For me, there was a little bit of sadness associated with getting out. I had originally planned on being in for life, but at the same time, I managed to do everything I wanted to do and spend a lot of time with great people, so I knew it was time.”
Photo courtesy of Eric Miller.
Shortly after his deployment, Miller separated from the Army. In August 2015, he began the journey that every veteran seems to experience post-service: figuring out what to do with the rest of your life.
“I tried my hand at a few things. Like a lot of vets, I had a hard time determining what I wanted to do,” Miller said. “I have a passion for the outdoors and a passion for history, but I also missed the higher calling that came with serving.”
One of the many career paths Miller tried was as a homeless outreach worker. Essentially, he worked with homeless populations in the area around his town in West Virginia. Instead of an office, Miller simply had an iPad, and he would cover 6-10 miles a day simply trying to find homeless people and help them find housing and get off of the streets.
“It was incredibly grueling work, but I really enjoyed it,” Miller said. “However, there’s a much darker side to that kind of work. It’s hard seeing your clients get arrested. ... At one point I had worked with over 40 people, and none of them were clean.”
Photo courtesy of Eric Miller.
Miller ended up going to college and simultaneously holding a work-study position at the veterans' resource center. (This same resource center is the place that first introduced him to Black Rifle Coffee Company through a free showing of Range 15 it hosted while Miller was a student.)
“When I first got out of the Army, the veterans' resource center was the place that I went to,” Miller said. “They immediately started handing me information on everything from how to navigate the VA to how to transition from the military to college. No one, including the military, helps you with that transition, but these back-end resources step in and help out a lot.”
Miller graduated with his bachelor's degree in history in December of 2019 and had the great fortune of job-hunting at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Add onto the pandemic a more personal medical misfortune that no one could have predicted: “I went from weightlifting and distance running to collapsing trying to walk to my mailbox,” Miller said. “I literally went to bed healthy and woke up crippled, and that’s not an exaggeration.” He didn’t know that he had been born with a congenital neurological disorder that had been mostly dormant his whole life.
From there, a predictably shitty battle with the VA ensued — because the VA doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, much less diagnose Miller, they decided to tell him he was crazy instead.
“The VA was giving me sleep meds, antidepressants, the whole nine,” Miller said. “They thought I was having a psychotic breakdown, and I just didn’t accept their diagnosis.”
In his battle to get help, he finally found a doctor who believed him and was able to run an electromyography test and give him a tentative diagnosis: myotonia congenita, which is, essentially, the human version of fainting goat disease. Miller doesn't have the classical disease, however, and is still going through genetic testing to determine the specifics of his diagnosis.
“My muscles are basically in a state of constant use; as a result, they never relax, which is one of the hallmarks of the disease, along with being muscular for no reason,” Miller said. “Think of it as the electric in your house not working; that’s what having a messed-up nervous system is like.”
This disability put Miller back at square one; he found his degree useless in his physical state and lost his then-dream job as a park ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers because he was bedridden.
In a moment when life had knocked him down, it was time to reinvent himself.
“I sat down one day and asked myself, what can I still do?” Miller said. “I feel like I’m not too smart, not good at math; physically I couldn’t leave my house, sometimes not even my bed or chair. But I’ve always been interested in writing, and by pure coincidence, I came across the job ad for Coffee or Die’s staff writer. When I read the description, I felt so far from what they were asking for, but I have a half-decent sense of humor, so I wrote the resume as a joke and sent it in.”
From there, Miller’s “joke” of a resume made its rounds and very quickly went viral on the BRCC podcast. Maria Morales, an associate recruiter at BRCC, reached out to Miller and asked him whether he would be interested in interviewing.
“My first interview went really well, as did my second, and I think I did like three or four interviews total,” Miller recalled. “They asked for my address and said they were sending coffee and a T-shirt, and I really thought it was a consolation prize. Theresa Hoehne [BRCC director of talent acquisition] shot me an email, said I was interviewing with Marty [Skovlund], and asked that I wear the BRCC shirt to ‘show Marty that I was interested,’ and I totally bought that.”
The rest is history (and if you aren’t familiar, here’s what happened next):
“This is the first time that I’ve been getting paid for any of the writing I’ve been doing for 30 years,” Miller said. “Hopefully, I’ll be doing it for another 30 years, unless I’m suddenly not funny anymore.”
BRCC is all about veterans making their place, not just in the world but within the company, and that’s exactly what Miller did. He created the position that he currently holds, BRCC took him in, and he is thriving.
Currently, Miller creates the quality satirical and meme-based Coffee or Die content that BRCC’s consumer base adores, and that’s been his job since the beginning — “My first month, Marty had me on DVIDS writing about the Air Force’s most recent [at the time] video product, which was, in fact, on penises,” Miller said.
“I think people get knocked down, and they hate themselves for getting there,” Miller said. “I got kicked in the nuts, felt the pain and gave it its due time, and bounced back. That’s not the most philosophical answer, but it’s reality.”