Do you remember what you were doing in 1944? For most of us, the answer is no. There was a man named Albert Lawrence Spoth, a son who was orphaned off during the Great Depression and a G.I. in Patton’s Army. Albert or “Al” as he went by was one of seven men to make it out alive during a raid in the Battle of the Bulge, WWII’s costliest action ever fought by the U.S. Army. The total cost of this action which has given countless Americans security since, suffered 100,000 casualties.
You see, “Al” was “Grandpa” to me, my hero at an early age. He was a Veteran and man who worked hard to go from orphan, soldier, insurance agent, home builder, father of three daughters, grandfather of seven, finder of his brothers and sisters lost during their separation in the Great Depression, to being my hero and role model.
Veterans Day is more than a day for corporations to say they hire Veterans, it is more than a day to say “thank you for your service,” it is the day that we, as Americans and business leaders, must sit down and re-examine our hiring practices and make a commitment to giving these incredible young men and women a chance to serve in the private sector.
Given my work to improve the welfare of our nation’s first responders who share the same values and health issues as our Veterans, I was invited to attend the Brain at War conference with Department of Veterans Affairs and NCIRE leaders. What stood out, relevant to this message, were the five characteristics of leadership outlined by Medal of Honor recipient Bud Bucha: “integrity, competency, confidence, compassion and humility.” Without the first, you cannot have the rest, and without all, you are not a leader.
So why should we hire Veterans:
Integrity: Our service men and women are willing to give their life in the belief of defending our nation’s security and liberty. In the business world, these men and women are not influenced by easy money; there is no price on integrity, it comes from within.Competency: The military has some of the highest standards as an industry and demands troops to perform while under stress, lack of sleep, and physical discomfort in order to keep operations moving forward while ensuring the safety of their teammates.Confidence: Simply put, trust. These men and women trust each other with their lives, they trust that their superiors will do the right thing, they trust that they will go home after a long hard day’s work to enjoy sacred time with their families. You can trust that they will give you their all if you give them a chance.Compassion: They’ve seen it all and know how finite life is. It isn’t about being touchy feely by civilian standards, it is about being real, being who you are, and being grateful to see another sunrise back home at 5 a.m. on their way into your business.Humility: Have you met a Navy Seal who bragged about what they did? No. When you have all five characteristics of leadership, you know when to turn up the heat, but you also know that everyone has a story, everyone has invisible wounds, and that everyone on your team has your back should you need it without whispering a word.
With employee costs accounting for close to 80% of a business’s operating expenses, you better hire the right people. Bottom-line, Veterans have transferable skills and are leaders. This Veterans Day, sit down, re-evaluate your hiring programs, and make a personal pledge to hire a Veteran for your next opening.
In Memory to All who have gone before me, and to All who are protecting us from above, including you, Grandpa. Thank You to our Veterans and to those active duty serving around the globe.