I have a love-hate relationship with the military. The red tape, the stringent and vigorous enforcement of rules that hardly made sense 50 years ago, and the severe under-utilization of talent are some things that I hardly miss. Ok, that is the end of my negative commentary for a job that I ‘lived‘, for 4 years and 19 weeks of my life. Yes, the military is not a job you work, its one you live. It determines every facet of the life you and your family have, with little choice. Where you will live, when you will need to show up at work, when you may need to go away for months at a time and finally, when you may need to sacrifice yourself is all often decided without your input. This brings me to my first point –
- A veteran always shows up – Of the many other jobs out there, the military is, bar none, the most stressful. A simple google search should prove my point. There is a high likelihood then, that anything you have to throw at a veteran is probably going to be less stressful than what they’re prepared for or have done in the past. And in the rare case it isn’t, they will take it in stride. Because as any vet will tell you, you gotta be prepared for anything.
- Only college where teamwork is your major – Boot camp, in my opinion, is a 9 week crash course in teamwork. There are no individuals for 9 weeks. Only teams, squads and platoons. I don’t remember a time when someone in my platoon had a lapse in judgement and we weren’t all punished for it. The reason for this is simple. In the military, your mistake could cost lives beyond your own. I don’t know another professional training or college where you get this level of immersion in becoming a team player.
- Meticulous planning is non negotiable – Every military mission involves meticulous planning. Whether it is the Navy Seal mission to raid Osama Bin Laden’s compound or a convoy movement from between two military posts. A veteran considers every detail so if you need someone with attention to detail, look no further.
- Complete commitment to the cause – I challenge a civilian to eat MREs for three consecutive days (something that any veteran will tell you is pretty routine even during training assignments). A veteran will dedicate themselves completely to the cause regardless of how unpleasant or unfamiliar the situation with the belief that there is a path to success. This kind of unwavering commitment is contagious and can be detrimental to a team’s success.
- Respect – A veteran will treat team members with tremendous respect. A veteran understands better than anyone that no mission or project is completed alone. They acknowledge the need for a team and respect the strengths each member brings. Moreover, they are not afraid to critique or give credit when it is due. May be that is where the term ‘straight shooter’ came from.
- Discipline and Focus – Imagine the kind of discipline it takes to lay prone without moving a muscle for hours on end. Most of us need to toss around in bed, even while we sleep, let alone having to be awake and constantly observant through the scope of a sniper rifle. What about a UAV pilot that flies a drone constantly observing activities on the ground beneath? This is the type of focus and discipline you get when you hire a veteran.
- Empathy – Every veteran is like a retired athlete. They are likely nursing injuries and disabilities, sometimes invisible to the naked eye. They put on a strong face (because they were trained to) and venture out to make their contributions to society. They know the effects of persistent physical and mental agony, far better than they’d care to tell you. So, when a situation demands empathy, you can bet the vet on your team will be your trump card.
I am sure these are not all of the reasons why I think veterans make brilliant employees. But I’ve made an attempt, based on my own personal experience, to summarize why there needs to be a veteran on every team.