This Veterans Day don’t be nice to veterans

By Chad Storlie

Military veterans need to create and to continue a discussion of what military service means at an individual level during their period of service, whether in combat or in peace.  Being thanked for military service is nice.  Parades are a nice.  But for Veteran’s Day 2016, the American public needs to move beyond being “nice” and to stop treating military veterans and military service as distant abstractions. Americans need to better understand military service.

I do not want people to stare at my Combat Infantry Badge or Special Forces Tab.  I want people to sit and listen to the incredible value of the U.S. Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer Corps and how sergeants have taught, trained, coached, and improved me to become a better officer.  I want to tell people how in cold, dark nights during the Korean autumn, Sgt. Sowers and Sgt. Tipton taught me in a Vietnam-era M106A2, 4.2-inch mortar carrier how to aim, load, and fire the mortar to pass my mortar gunner’s exam.  Learning how the NCOs of the US Army teach, train, coach, and develop soldiers is something that all citizens must know to appreciate the service and dedication of the U.S. military.

This will not solve the existing and growing civilian-military divide. Military veterans sometimes exacerbate the divide when they bring and advance unfair qualifications of service that do not even exist. As military veterans, we all stand together with the quality and a mutual appreciation of each other’s service. I want to tell people the story of a private on a mid-afternoon in Baghdad in August running a fuel station along a dusty end of Baghdad International Airport.  He was still dressed in his woodland Battle Dress Uniform that was filthy, sweat soaked and he had been wearing it since from deploying from Germany a few days before.  He fueled the vehicle, did a quick maintenance check of the vehicle, and set two tired officers on their way while he sweated in 130-degree heat.  These are the stories of professionalism, dedication, and sacrifice that America needs to hear.

(Photo: DVIDS by Cpl Trever Statz)

It is this level of personal communication that the United States needs to advance the value, appreciation, and understanding what military service brings to military veterans and to the rest of the country.  Americans need to hear the stories of small groups of American Infantry soldiers outside of in the wooded hills southwest of Zvornik, Bosnia and Herzegovina guarding United Nations forensic experts as they unearthed and recovered the bodies of men and boys that had been killed when the Srebrenica safe area fell in 1995.

This and every Veteran’s Day make a difference to military veterans and to make a difference in society.  Military Veterans lead in the service and they continue to lead in business, government, education, non-profits, and society.  Listen, learn, and then appreciate on November 11.

Chad StorlieChad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to BusinessSuccess.  Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective.  Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units.  He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States.  He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.   Chad is also an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE.  In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics.  He has been published in over 80 publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today.  He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.