Veterans Day: Leading in the Community

November 8, 2022

by Stephen T. Messenger

This Veterans Day, I want to express one thought: Gratitude. There’s no more noble act than raising one’s right hand to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Millions of Americans have done this to ensure our freedom, and they’re one of the many reasons America continues to thrive.

Today, our armed forces consist of all volunteers, willingly ready to place their country above themselves. Millions before them volunteered as well, serving in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to today, serving across the globe on land, sea, and air. Moreover, they stood, and stand, ready during times of peace to protect our Nation.

However, prior to 1973, America used conscription to fill much of its ranks from as far back as colonial times. Since World War I, over 16 million service members were drafted. Those drafted into service were critical to helping break the stalemate of World War I, free the globe from international oppression in World War II, and perform noble service in Korea and Vietnam.

Today, there are about 18 million veterans in our Nation, and Veterans Day is for those who previously served and transitioned into community leadership.

Veterans Are Specifically Trained in Leadership

Leadership is the most pined after trait the world seeks. Employers desperately look to hire leaders in corporate America, government positions, privately owned companies, local and State jobs, and in every workplace. Volunteer organizations desperately need leaders to inspire, motivate, and attract people to help in their mission. And families need leaders to lead their spouses and children.

The military understands that leadership is the lynchpin to success. No matter the branch or service, veterans of all ranks have been specifically trained in this discipline.

For example, a soldier with four years of service has most likely been promoted to a team leader—responsible for between three and five other soldiers. They are solely accountable for their team’s well-being, health, and welfare. They train, coach, teach, and mentor their people. They ensure the mission is accomplished at all costs. And they are the ones who are held accountable for the team’s success and failure on and off the battlefield.

World War II Junior Leaders

Junior leadership was the differentiator in World War II. After the D-Day invasion into Normandy, paratroopers were scattered across Western Europe, the majority without their assigned leaders. Yet the most junior sergeant knew it was their job to gather whoever was around and complete their objective.

And did they ever! The enemy marveled at how the American non-commissioned officer corps took initiative. These junior and leaders didn’t need to wait on orders from officers. They only needed a task and purpose, and for everyone to get out of their way.

Veterans Serving in Our Communities

Veterans return to the civilian sector as leaders. They take their skills and make a difference. The brother and sisterhood in which they grew up have embedded in a culture of loyalty and leadership. The Chief of Staff of the Army has a great saying, “People first, winning matters.” Veterans understand this.

They know the mission cannot fail and their people are the ones who accomplish that mission.

Finally, veterans come with a warrior ethos. They have grown up in an ethics-based environment which only adds to their value outside the military. Veterans have a multiplying effect whether leading in their places of work, volunteer activities, or homes. They are truly people first, and know winning matters.

Thank You!

I am incredibly grateful for these leaders making a difference—first in the military and now in the community. One day, I too will leave my service as a military leader and become a retired Veteran. Those that have already done so, have served honorably, proudly, and humbly.

On this Veterans Day, I am grateful for all who have served. I hope you’ll pass this link on to a Veteran you know to thank them for their sacrifice.

Thank you!

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Lead well!

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