Tag Archives: Military

Remember On A Personal Level This Memorial Day


Memorial Day is a solemn holiday that is difficult to appreciate. What makes it difficult is how to honor and how to remember in an appropriate and respectful manner for the military members who fell in battle. The best way to remember the fallen on Memorial Day is to make Memorial Day a day of personal memories, sharing, and respect.

Fly a Flag at Your Home. Flying a flag at your home is a wonderful way to make sure that you remember the sacrifice of Memorial Day the entire day. If you can, have everyone in your neighborhood fly their flags. Memorial Day helps remind us how special America is and the fluttering of flags along neighborhoods, on lawns, and from windows makes everyone pause, remember, and appreciate the greatest sacrifice a service member can make.

Remember the Favorite Times & Share the Stories of Fallen Friends. This is one of the hardest pieces of advice to give about Memorial Day. Remembering and appreciating fallen friends is very hard because it brings back such intense emotions that do not fade quickly. However, it transforms Memorial Day into a day of personal memory and growth. A few stories about my friends that fell. One of my friends was a Special Forces, military ski instructor the day I first met him. I was brand new to my Special Forces unit and I was trying (and failing) to ski some intermediate downhill terrain in my military issue skis and boots. I was, literally, pulling my head from a snow bank when I looked up and saw him beautifully skiing swiftly down the terrain that I had just tumbled down. He skied down to me, helped me up, and then taught me how to ski better. He helped inspire me to be a better officer from that day forward. These are the memories of my friends that I want to share and I want others to remember. Memorial Day is not a day to remember how military members died. I want my friend remembered for being a great leader, for being a skilled Special Forces Non-Commissioned Officer, and for being an inspiration to everyone that met him. Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women and what made them great soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen.

Go & Visit a National Cemetery to Respect Fallen Military Members. Finding a national or state cemetery close to your home is a moving way to begin Memorial Day. If you can, go at dawn and watch the sunrise over the headstones. Walking among the graves, reading the names, and remembering the conflict that the soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen fell in is a moving and instructive way for children to remember Memorial Day. What always, always strikes me when I visit National Cemeteries is the sheer number of the fallen. I always see soldiers in formations which then fades into the images of the headstone. Every headstone has a memory, a face, and a family. Look up the closest National Cemetery through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website at https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/listcem.asp

Memorial Day3

Reach Out to Surviving Family Members of the Fallen. If you know someone personally who had a family member fall in battle reach out to them before or after Memorial Day. When you talk to them, tell them one or several of your own stories of what you remember about the person who gave their life for the country. This simple act of reaching out, listening, and sharing your own memories is invaluable for their remembrances. Sharing and remembering funny stories and special occasions re-creates and remembers everything that made that person special.

Donate to the Children of the Fallen. Remembering the children of the fallen is a meaningful way to make a difference on Memorial Day. If you can, donate to a program that creates college scholarships for these children. Even better, serve as a coach, as a tutor, or as a mentor to help these children overcome the loss of a parent and become the great person that is inside each one of them. Helping a child of the fallen is one of the best things to help continue the memory of their fallen parent.

This Memorial Day remember and re-appreciate the fallen on a personal level. Share the stories and special memories of fallen friends and make others see how they were special not because they fell, but by being the people they were. Visiting a National Cemetery and reaching out to surviving family members is a profound way to listen and understand how special and unique the fallen servicemember was. Finally, find a way through donations, mentoring, or other forms of support to help the children of the fallen to become great people. Memorial Day is special when we remember the fallen at a personal level.


Related stories and information:

Demonstrate Your Military Values at Work Every Day

Bring the Advice from Your Military Mentors to Work

Commemorate the Service of Military Veterans With Together We Served


The Memorial Day poppy is inspired by the World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields” by Lt.Col. John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Visit USAA’s virtual poppy wall where you can dedicate a #PoppyinMemory at  http://poppyinmemory.com

Advice On How To Approach An Effective Military to Civilian Transition


Sponsored Content Courtesy of USAA

Transitions Can Be Difficult, But They Are Immensely Rewarding.  The transition from the military to a peacetime setting can be eased when the military experience is viewed as an opportunity for the military veteran to expand their skills and abilities in a new career.  Here are some points of advice to help military veterans make a successful transition.

  • The Value of Military Skills in The Workforce. To be successful in second career, you must be able to bring military training and experience to civilian employment.  A newly transitioned military veteran wants to make a bigger impact within the business organization and increase their value to the organization.  In the business world, the bigger the splash you make, the greater chances of promotion and additional opportunity.  A keystone of success in business is to fully leverage all military training and experience in the corporate business world to make a bigger difference.  Once you demonstrate skills fully, the hiring marketplace for skills will improve both inside and outside company, even in a down economy.  Employers of veterans often look to them to solve big challenges and take on additional responsibilities, thanks to their “can-do” attitudes and performance under-pressure skills.  All veterans inherently recognize that the military-to-civilian transition is difficult, especially in the workplace.  The key point of struggle is that recognizing the problem is not enough.  Veterans need skills, tools, understandings, and approaches today to accelerate their careers and their employers’ business results.
  • What Are Your Plans and Goals? The military provides a great deal of social and professional structure daily.  The fact that Army life is so structured (physical training, breakfast, training, work details and so on) helps reduce a great deal of stress because even after the return from military, there is a daily structure to help guide you through life.  Even for the most senior military veterans, there is a whirlwind of change and a complete lack of structure once you are released from active duty and return to the civilian world.  Freedom is a wonderful thing, but too much unstructured time can be a downfall that leads to excessive TV, video games, eating, solitude, and alcohol.  Military veterans need a plan to create structure and discipline in their daily life so they do not lose focus on their goals.  I advise veterans to create a list of what they want to do: exercise, see friends, sit in on classes at a college, work a part-time job, start a small business, or take on a constructive hobby such as photography or hiking.  Having a daily structure built around goals makes the military-to-civilian transition immensely easier, more productive, and much less likely to be derailed.


  • What Is Your Story? Recent military veterans, since the start of the First Gulf War, make up a small percentage of the U.S. population.  Veterans inevitably encounter the all too frequent and inane questions of: “How many people did you kill?”  “Why are people still at Guantanamo?”  “Where is Iraq?”  “Are we still in Iraq and Afghanistan?”  (The last is my personal favorite.)  It is best to have a set of practiced responses to these questions and others instead of becoming angry or despondent at people’s apparent lack of knowledge or concern.  The clear majority of civilians are exceptionally proud of the military and its performance in military in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The problem that no one else can solve is the growing gulf between most Americans without military experience and the U.S. military veteran.  A preset story that is simple and well described or some humorous anecdotes will greatly help veterans explain their time in military and make them more comfortable doing so.  This will not close the experience gap, but it will make a veteran more at ease explaining their time serving the country to an audience that knows very little about the military.
  • Take Some Time to Explore. The literal descent from the military to the civilian world can be exceptionally disorienting.  I advise veterans to structure their time, but to also take some time to explore the world that they have been away from.  Traveling, doing the Outward Bound program for veterans (www.outwardbound.org), starting a small business, or taking a few college classes prior to full-time enrollment are excellent ways to try things out, explore and make sure that next path in life is one that you want.  Immediately going from military to the civilian world to a job or the college classroom can at times be too much.  A three- to six-month period to get comfortable, get sorted out and explore options before jumping in is an excellent way to help make the military-to-civilian transition a success.
  • Understand Daily Risks. With the newfound freedom of the civilian world, there are plenty of things that can derail the successful career plans of a veteran.  Alcohol, drug use, fast cars and motorcycles, men and women more interested in bank account than you, and personal financial mismanagement are just a few of the dangers to which recent military veterans have succumbed.  The transition from military to the civilian world will be difficult, and there will be residual effects from combat exposure such as combat stress and the potential for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  However, the use of counseling, veteran-to-veteran conversation, exercise, a good diet, and programs that teaches military veterans stress-mitigation techniques all help reduce risky behavior and make for a much more successful transition.
  • Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Help and To Help Others. There are hundreds of resources to help military veterans process Veterans Affairs claims, treat stress, and find employment, and there are college programs to help veterans make the transition from military to the classroom.  In addition, military veterans are fantastic leaders, so there is space to help with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, shelters for homeless veterans and existing veteran’s service organizations.  The ability to accept help and offer to help others is a skill that I have been amazed at in recent military veterans.


Every veteran when they return from military will have to chart their own course.  Others and I have offered the steps and advice that we wish we had known about when we came back from the military.  The experience of military veterans is universal in that military has changed us, but we are all seeking to use the experience of military and what it taught us to improve our daily lives and the lives of others.  Military veterans are changed by their military experience, but they can use it to better themselves and to ensure that they have a fulfilling, happy, and satisfying life, career, family, and financial transition.


Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

Soft Military Skills That Deliver Hard Results for Military Veteran Careers

Translating and applying military skills sets to post-military careers is an invaluable, essential, and vital steps for military veterans to have the best opportunity for career success following military service.  Leadership, Coaching, Training, and finding Solutions to problems are only a few of the ways to add value.  The way to get excited, engaged, and successful in your new civilian career is to leverage and employ your hard-learned military skills in your new civilian career.

US Air Force Engineers

                      US Air Force Engineers

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #1 – Help Your Boss Define Success.  In the military, as junior leaders, we were used to helping advice, assisting, and developing our military commanders in their professional duties.  Key to this development was helping them determine the description and definition of a successful military operation.  In the civilian world, some leaders are extremely protective of their professional position and may resent the ideas of a subordinate helping them define success.  To help leaders overcome their fear, start with a small project and show how you can define the success.  This is a small impact and powerful example that shows your boss what can be done without appearing to threaten their authority.

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #2 – Train Your Team To Excel At Their Current (and Future) Jobs.  Another military skill that works great for the civilian workplace is training others to do their jobs better and how to do your job.  Often times, people believe that by not teaching others how to perform their job, they preserve their position.  However, by not training a replacement, you confine yourself to your current position because you cannot be replaced.  Training, developing, educating, and improving your team to perform their jobs better and how to do your job makes them better at their own jobs, makes your team better, and makes your team motivated because you are demonstrating how they can succeed in their careers.

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #3 – Ensure Life Outside of Work Is Good.  A classic military job of the Squad Leader or Section Leader was to check on Soldiers outside of work, in the barracks, and their home off base.  The belief was that if a person was having trouble outside of work, then how they could perform well while at work.  This applies equally in the civilian workplace.  Most workers want to keep their work and home life private, which is fine.  Inquiring about how their children are doing, their spouse, and the general activities of their home life is a great way to show that you care without being to obtrusive.  In addition, giving employees time off for major life events and personal emergencies, as long as it is not over used, is a great way to demonstrate that you care personally about them and their success.

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #4 – Create, Test, and Offer Solutions for Problems Then Implement.  Another great military skill set is when problem identification, initiative and execution intersect.  This is when people identify problems, create a solution, test to make sure it works, and then implement the solution all with their own initiative.  This discipline to creativity, innovation, and initiative is what makes military and civilian teams great.  Again, many civilian bosses can be uncomfortable with this initiative, but it has great value to a business and to customer satisfaction.  Start with small problems, solve this effectively, and move onto larger challenges.

Soft skills from the military combine initiative, leadership, problem definition, idea creation, innovative solutions, and effective execution.  Some civilian bosses make time to become comfortable with these concepts, but all civilian leaders will find them effective and the right task to perform to make customers satisfied and create a profitable business that customers want to use repeatedly.


How To Prepare To Join The Military

Preparing to join the military is a great way to get your military and civilian career off to a great start. To start your military career right from Day One, there are some vitally important factors for you to consider so you can be successful in your initial training as well as your follow on or advanced training. This advice is for anyone planning to join any military service.

Prepare To Join The Military

Prepare To Join The Military

Preparing To Join The Military Tip #1 – Start Talking to Recruiters A Year Out. If you are considering enlisting or joining an officer commissioning program, make a plan to go and speak to all the service recruiters. If you are set on the Marines, then go and explore your options with the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Air Force. If you are just interested in the Air Force, then talk to the Army, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Navy. At this point, you “don’t know what you don’t know.” Speaking to recruiters from all military services will give you a very good idea of the full range of positions, training, and signing bonus that are available to you. At any point in joining the military, there are a range of opportunities that are and are not available based on the current size of the respective services. Speaking to all the recruiters gives you a good idea of what is truly available.


Preparing to Join The Military Tip #2 – Drugs, Legal Violations, Some Tattoo’s, Obesity & Fitness Level Are What Ruin People’s Military Dreams. There is a large group of people that want desperately to join the military but cannot due to violations of the military service standards that bar them from joining the military and entering service. As a broad rule, the use of illegal drugs; legal convictions of criminal activity; some tattoo’s on the face, neck or hands; personal weight levels above the service standard, and the inability to successfully complete a basic physical fitness test are what remove candidates from consideration for military service. The best advice is to avoid any and all activities that will disqualify you from military service.

Preparing to Join The Military Tip #3 – Get In Good Overall Shape. Your goal for fitness and bodyweight should be to get in the best overall shape that you can. You want to balance strength training and cardiovascular fitness because too much strength training could hurt your run times and too much running may leave you susceptible to injury and not passing the push-ups and pull-ups to military standard. There are a number of excellent fitness programs that you can pursue.

Preparing to Join The Military Tip #4 – Do Well On Your High School GPA & Graduate. After the fitness disqualifications to military service, a lack of a high school degree with a decent GPA is next. A high school degree and a good GPA that will help you do well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – a test that partially controls what military specialties that you can sign up to perform. Graduating high school on time and with a good GPA is a must have to start your military career.

Preparing To Join The Military Tip #5 – Prepare for Times When Military Service Is Awful. At my first duty station in Korea, the January weather was so cold that the water buffalo’s froze inside of heated tents which made serving hot food impossible. We had limited MRE’s because they were all in the Middle East so we ate beef jerky or nothing because the peanut butter sandwiches froze. It was a horrible time in the field. You can do all the fitness and preparation, but your mind has to be prepared to suffer, and suffer mightily. Military recruits that are not prepared to suffer and to perform their best while suffering are challenged to complete a term of military service.

Talking early to recruiters, staying away from activities that disqualify you for military service, being in good shape, possessing a completed high school degree, and having your attitude focused on surpassing suffering while still serving well is how you succeed.  Have a successful military career and have fun.


Just Published on USAA – How To Build a Military Diversity Group At Your Company

Company Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s), Employee Affinity Groups (EAG) and employee network groups are well established in most businesses today. ERG’s consist of different ethnicities, different genders, and different sexual orientations.  The purpose of ERG’s is to simultaneously advance the careers of their members and the performance and the well-being of the company they are employed at.  ERG’s help the company and they help the company’s employees.


Employee Resource Groups began to slowly populate across corporations large and small over the past two to three decades.   Military Veteran ERG’s or Military Veteran affinity groups began about a decade ago and have taken off over the past three to five years.  There are a number of ways to establish, build, and grow a military veteran ERG at your company.


Here are Five Ways to Build a Military Veteran ERG at your Company


#1 – Meet with Existing ERG’s. One of the best ways to establish a military veteran ERG in your company is to meet and learn from existing ERG’s in your company.  Most companies have a fairly complex and time-consuming administrative process to justify, approve, and create a new ERG.  Learning from and following the lessons from those that have already created and validated an ERG is the best way to follow through.  An additional benefit is that when existing ERG’s support and recommend the formation of a new ERG for military veterans, it makes the process easier.


#2 – Create Content Focused on Career Advancement. To build membership quickly, offering content based on how to advance and improve careers is one of the most appropriate and asked about content for ERG members.  Content that improves interview skills, helps members learn about other departments, content that creates mentor-mentee relationships for personal improvement, and resume workshops are increasingly in demand.  Finally, a way to expand value throughout the company is to offer career workshops to all ERG member groups, not just military veteran ERG members.  Sharing content with other ERG’s promotes the military concept of teamwork and improvement.


#3 – Tell the Value of Military Skills for Business Through History. As a rule, nearly everyone loves learning about military history.  World War II is an area of high interest that has a lot of content potential that translates easily from military history into business and leadership lessons.  The Red Ball Express, a US Army African-American logistical unit that provided critical supplies during the Battle of the Bulge counter attacks, tells the story of teamwork, leadership by example, the critical importance of logistics, and the value of training.  These business lessons related through the stories of the Red Ball Express during World War II show the lessons of business from history, the value that diversity brings to create high performing teams, and educates employees on a critical period of US history.


#4 – Translate Military Skills Into Business Use. Military veterans transitioning into a company or Guard / Reserve military personnel returning from deployment all need assistance translating and applying their military skills to meet business challenges.  There are immediate ways to apply military safety procedures to make a company’s operations safer, ways the military contracts for services and receives bids for new business  that a company can use for improved purchasing, or how a military coaching session of the Task, Condition, Standard, and Observed Performance can be used to improve employees.  There are an immense number of uses for military skills in business – a military veteran ERG helps all military members benefit from military skill sets.


#5 – Make a Place for All Employees. One of the best ways to expand and build an ERG is to make a dedicated and unique place for non-military veterans.  There are a large number of employees that want to learn about the military, help military veterans transition effectively, and learn military skill sets they can apply to their careers.  Have a place for non-military veterans in the military veteran ERG to expand the membership base and employee advocates for the military veteran ERG.


Military Veteran Employee Resource Groups expand military veteran skill sets, help retain and attract military veteran employees, and bring new skills to make the company better. Military Veteran ERG’s are a critical business asset to help a company succeed.