We celebrated Veterans’ Day last week. As a country and a people we are much more appreciative of our veterans now than we were when I was in the army. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Just observing.
I am proud of my service. Given the positive relations between the general public and veterans I have incorporated my service time into the “story” I tell prospective EOS clients now. Among other points I make, I say “I earned my leadership skills in my four years in the army and I field tested those skills in Viet Nam”.
In a session with one of my clients last week, during our check-in, one of the members of the leadership team recalled hearing my story and stopped to ask me to confirm that I was a veteran. When I did she thanked me for my service. She is one of very few people to thank me. And all of them this year.
I became emotional. I told the team that I am happy for today’s vets but that when I returned from Viet Nam I essentially snuck back into the country. Not really. But that is how it felt. I flew in late at night into Oakland, CA airbase via a military contracted plane, not a commercial airliner. I was met around midnight by my wife and my brother-in-law. No crowds. No thank you. My wife tells me it was a terrible sight. A soldier sitting in the darkness, alone, outside of the terminal building. The base was closed. The country felt closed.
We soon got passed that moment. I was back with the love of my life. I was whole. We were together again. Our whole life in front of us. Not true for the 58,000 fatal casualties of that war and the 75,000 severely disabled. I have led a very fortunate life.
This is a all a bit maudlin and not my usual style. So I’ll end on a positive note. Military service is a great training ground for leadership. To all my EOS colleagues – please encourage your EOS client companies to find a way to hire a veteran into their company and ideally onto their leadership team. It is the best way to say thank you. Their company will be stronger for it. To all my other business colleagues and friends, please do the same.
Photo credit: another soldier