One of the hardest transitions of my life was getting out of the Army, going to and graduating from college, and then trying to get a job in corporate America.
In the Army, I lived by LDRSHIP: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. These values gave me purpose and direction. In the civilian sector however, I struggled to apply my past to my future. I began passively coasting though life and just took the first job I was offered.
It was clear pretty early on that the job wasn’t a good fit. My employer thought I needed to be less opinionated, and over time I started to say less and less because I overanalyzed everything I said. I knew I wasn’t living up to my Army values or my experience, but I didn’t have the courage to do differently.
During my time in Iraq I never questioned myself or my courage. My unit served as the security team for Army Public Relations Teams while they traveled to villages across the country. I obviously needed to think critically or I wouldn’t be able to keep my unit safe. With all of that experience, why didn’t my employer want my feedback or encourage my participation? Why didn’t they trust me?
Values aren’t just words – they’re life and death.
Over time I’ve found that employers who don’t focus on hiring veterans just don’t understand how big of a resource they are.
Everyone in the military shares one important task: be fully prepared for things to pop off at any moment. How do we make sure this task gets done? By not only following but fully embodying our values.
Each branch has a different way of expressing them. But no matter the branch, you’ll never see words like “Complacency” or “Unintentional” for a good reason.
During my deployment each platoon was struck by an IED. We had some very serious injuries, but we were very lucky not to lose anyone from our unit. If we had been complacent, would that have still been the case?
I had lost sight of the biggest reason veterans are an asset to any company. Not only do they understand teamwork, accountability and hard work better than anyone else, they understand what it means to serve and live for a purpose larger than themselves. I knew I had to find a new opportunity that valued my courage instead of diminishing it.
What are military values worth to civilian companies?
Eventually my sister-in-law put in my resume at her company, Populus Group (PG). I was determined to put my military values up front during my interviews so that I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
From the first interview I knew the company was different. Not only were they veteran-owned, but they employed a lot of veterans too. No one ever told me to be less reserved or questioned my integrity.
A year later, I can honestly say that PG has helped me re-identify with my values and apply them to my purpose. It’s important for everyone to identify or remember what values drive them, know that they have a purpose, and find the right partner to help them get there.
If you’re a veteran, reach out. Come to PG. We have a place for you.