First and foremost, thank you to all that have served. That service makes us a stronger country and is very appreciated.
I joined the Army in 1990. I have many friends in my social circle that have military service in their background. I have found there is an instant connection when two people that have a military history meet each other.
I thought this year, in addition to offering gratitude to those who have volunteered to be part of the greatest military force in the world, I wanted to offer thanks to the units we supported. That’s right…I want to thank the United States Army.
Let me share my personal story.
When I signed up for the Army in 1989, I did not enlist to fight an enemy. I didn’t think about freedom. I didn’t think that I had anything to really offer to the conflict in the desert. Looking back, I never really considered the fact that I was ‘willing to lay down my life’ for my country. Frankly, it didn’t seem like a reality I’d ever have to face- at least I hoped so. I realized now how lucky I was and how real the risk was back then.
What I needed when I signed up was a job. At that point in my life my longest running job was about a year and a half. I had no money for college, my job prospects were low but I was full of hope and energy. I had to make a change. Joining the military seemed like a great choice. Little did I know how great it would be. I owe so much to those years. Here are a few of the things I am thankful for.
The Army paid me a decent wage and guaranteed me a four year gig. I had a roof over my head, a pretty nice apartment actually. I got great benefits. Amazing compared to any job I’ve ever had since. I got life insurance for the first time. I got some fantastic perks to include: a gym membership, discount shopping, free movers, discount automotive services, discounts buying vacations, park passes, and even restaurants. I had good neighbors, chances to go to social events and a good support system.
I made great friends. It started in boot camp. There are people that I met during those weeks that I keep in touch with 30 years later. The Army attracts people from all walks of life. I met people that I never would have crossed paths with in a million years. Our time together gave me perspectives I hadn’t gotten anywhere else. We had plenty of time to tell each other stories. I heard and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. I learned a ton about life, love, family, loss, hope, ethics, values, and the world in general.
I went on the most amazing adventures. The first time I moved away from New England was to go to basic training. From there, I spent some time in the South and I later moved to Germany and got to live there for a couple years. That allowed me to travel all over Europe. It was unbelievable! I wish I had been more mature and had taken better advantage of the opportunity, but really, it was amazing.
The Army taught me great things about business. I believe that the military is the greatest business model in the world. I say that frequently and I believe it. The Army taught me about leadership, culture, motivation, mindset, organization, overcoming challenges, resilience, and respect. It was where I learned the value of diversity. I experienced what real teamwork was and understood my role the success of a team. I found who I was and who I could be. Striving for rank kept me seeking out training and new experiences. That helped developed a drive and thirst for learning that is part of me today. The way I lead and run business now is driven by what I learned there.
I could go on and on. But here is my point….I got more from the Army than it got from me. I am proud of my service, I value that time and would not trade it for anything. But the reality is I was one of the very lucky ones. I owe a debt of gratitude for all the military gave me and taught me. I recognize that there are other brothers and sisters out there who sacrificed greatly during their time of service and I am so glad we take a day like to today to remember them. I will also take this day as a reminder to thank the Army for all it gave me personally and professionally. I would not be who am today without that experience.
Thank you for letting me serve.