Reflections on Veterans Day
Thirty years later.
Any regular reader of this blog knows, due to my references to the U.S. Army, that I am a veteran. Nov. 15, 2021, marks my 30th anniversary of exiting the military That’s right: Nov. 15, 1991, was my last day in the service.
A few thoughts:
Now off my soap box, it is the start of a new day and another year of not being in the military but applying the lessons I learned there to my emergency management duties.
A few thoughts:
- I did not carry the military with me into civilian life. Initially, my biggest fear was standing up in a meeting and introducing myself as Major Holdeman. While I am proud of my service, that era is behind me. I fully understand a full colonel or general officer having a COL (Ret) in their signature block. Maybe it is because I retired as a major that it is not important to me. I’m proud of my military service, but I’m not defined by it.
- Why a major and not a colonel? I certainly made some mistakes in my 20 years of service, but one of them was not being disloyal to my commander. How can loyalty be bad, you say? A subordinate, in the military and as a civilian, is to give their bosses their best advice, even when the boss doesn’t want to hear it. Then when the boss makes a decision, perhaps contrary to what you personally recommended, you are to support it like it was your idea. Trust me on this — it doesn’t always work out well — but, I sleep well at night, I was truthful and I was loyal. I was not a yes sir, yes sir, two-bags-full brownnoser.
- The Army was a great training ground for me as I transitioned out of the military service and into emergency management. This is especially true for disaster response, operations, training and exercises — not to mention planning. Mitigation, on the other hand, was a new term to me and many emergency managers in 1993. I remember one saying, “Mitigation, it sounds like litigation!”
- If I could wave my magic wand, I would require every high school graduate to have two years of civic service. No deferments, no Harvard. They could go into the military or another government-sponsored activity, like the Civilian Conservation Corps, teachers aid, etc. We have become too focused on self, with little focus on service.