This Veterans Day, we need to recognize what we can learn from veterans to make our lives better. On Veterans Day, there are five things we can do to remember the dedication, tradition and sacrifice of veterans. The best way to remember and appreciate veterans is to learn from them and use those experiences to make your life better.
1. Understand the veteran experience – read a book. Veteran authors play a critical role in relating and retelling the American experience of combat and military service. Go to your library, local bookstore, or Amazon.com and discover a veteran author. The war and the generation do not matter. Just read and understand, as best you can, what it is like to be in combat, under fire and scared. Oh, yeah – pass the book onto someone else when you are done. Make sure they finish it.
2. Invite a veteran into the classroom. Students from elementary school to graduate school can learn a great deal by listening, asking questions, and putting a face to a historical period. Find a veteran, schedule a time and get them in front of students for an hour. Students will learn about a veteran’s comrades, equipment and missions. Be sure to ask them what they are most proud of in their service. Try really hard to find some World War II or Korea veterans; we are losing these veterans as they approach the final years of their lives.
3. Translate some military skill sets to your job. The military excels at teaching processes, creating checklists, innovating, practicing adaptive leadership and creating successful junior leaders. There are lots of skills your company or organization needs from innovation to safety to ethics – the military can teach you a lot. For example, the U.S. Army uses the After Action Review or AAR. In the AAR, a team discusses what went well, what did not go well and what can be done to make the mission more successful the next time. Try it in your business; you will not be disappointed.
4. Mentor a veteran to achieve their career dreams. Veterans love to learn and want to have dynamic, rewarding and challenging post-military careers. Often times, veterans struggle with discovering all of the available opportunities and positions in the modern economy. The best thing you can do is to just help one veteran discover all they can and want to do. Just start by helping one.
5. Look for roles for veterans and support veterans in your local community. Veterans live to lead and help people. Help veterans understand where they can play a role in your community by serving as coaches, teachers or mentors to others. Know of a veteran business in your town? Support it with your business and recommend it to others. I help out at my boys’ school several times a year and teach at a local college. A little involvement goes a long way.
Challenge yourself to make this Veterans Day different both for yourself and for veterans. As you meet veterans, pause and start the conversation of asking how you can learn from them, from their experience, and how you can bring back their service and experience to create value in your community. This Veterans Day, take an hour or two and learn a few things from me and those like me. That’s all we want.