Ricky Derring: Leading by example

Ricky Derring

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Derring is currently a manager with healthcare company CVS. (Photo Courtesy of Ricky Derring)

By Annette Coward, Warrior Transition Command

If you ever need motivation to overcome adversity or setbacks or want to strive to do better, former President Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The credit belongs to the man in the arena.”

It’s the same principle retired Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Derring strives to live by every day.

“It basically means we all fall short, but your life is your responsibility. It’s about getting back up and trying again and striving to do better and helping others reach the same stance in life,” he said.

Derring’s passion to serve began in his hometown of Watertown, New York as he set his sights on enlisting in the Army.

“The Army was always calling me, I was raised by my grandparents and my grandfather was a Vietnam Vet. The military was appealing and unique.”

Joining the military in September of 2000, Derring entered the 82nd Airborne Division as a Ranger.

After almost 10 years with the Special Forces Unit at Fort Bragg and several deployments to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan, he returned to the U.S. in 2014 only to find himself fighting a different type of battle, an internal battle.

“It was a difficult time for me. I suffered from PTSD, I made a few bad decisions, I couldn’t sleep, I had nightmares, but the experience made me a better person,” Derring explained. “I needed to redirect that energy and focus.”

Derring turned to the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for help.

“Not only did they help me with the emotional issues but they helped me with the next stage of my life,” he said.

“Mr. Cedric Minor, [the] warrior transition coordinator with the WTB is awesome. I often turned to him for knowledge, guidance and expertise,” Derring said. “He and the staff helped me write resumes, linked me to companies for interviews. I used everything I learned in the military – I looked at seeking my next area of employment as a mission. I learned about the company. I often went on interviews I was over qualified for to see what kind of questions they would field.”

After retiring in July 2015, Derring began using his new found knowledge to help other Soldiers. Sgt. 1st Class Phoebe Taylor, also in the WTB at Fort Bragg, says Derring's commitment to helping others is beyond commendable.

“He reaches back to pull someone else up. He’s always visiting the WTB and leaving the soldiers and the staff with positive nuggets. He’s such a positive force and is always willing to help soldiers," Taylor said.

“I really wanted to focus on leadership. I made a promise to the WTB I would go back and help my fellow Soldiers,” Derring said.

“I teach them leadership skills and I teach them to market themselves. It’s like self-branding. I want them to focus on their future potential, not current situation. It’s a personal message to yourself. You are of value. I want them to hold onto that.”

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Derring is currently a manager with healthcare company CVS.

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