On Veterans Day – Showing How Civilians & Employers Benefit From The Military

Maybe we should reinvent how we commemorate, before we celebrate, our military. (Revised & Updated 11/11/22)

It is Veterans Day 2022 and, due to angst, I am revisiting the big celebration. For the past several years I have been thinking about the significance of Veterans Day and asking myself the same basic question. “Why do we celebrate Veterans Day and mark the occasion with salutes, sales, the day off from work and offer up our token ‘thanks’ for service?” Does all of this activity really pay tribute to our active military veterans? I believe they have come to represent things associated with, but are not the real reasons for, celebrating the day.

This year my frustration hit a tipping point, but this time the opposite turned out to be true. It wasn’t because of how we celebrate Veterans Day; it was due to our lack of understanding how the military impacts our lives as civilians. I was talking with a reporter from my local NPR station when I brought up the fact that he wanted to meet with me on Veterans Day. Although Colin is very informed, community-minded and involved in national affairs, he had forgotten it was Veterans Day.

At that moment, it become apparent to me that a segment of our population is either unaware of, or may not even care about, our military. We don’t need this to become another cultural divide which separates our United States. So, I came to my first conclusion that someone, like me, should do something more than either ignore it or recognize it as a holiday. My solution is to revisit, and perhaps reinvent, it!

For the past 17 years, I have tried to help active military veterans re-apply their skills and transition into business careers. While it is always difficult, most of these challenges do not prevent military leaders from adapting to business careers. This awareness has led me to a second conclusion. Most active veterans don’t need help with Veterans Day, their civilian counterparts do.

I believe a better understanding of the military by businesses and the general public is what’s really missing. It is also how we can reinvent the less desirable parts of Veterans Day that need to be updated.

I want to change this and, with your help, believe we can. My idea is to make the business world and civilian consumers become more aware of the military around them. All of us can doing a better job of showing the private sector how they benefit from the military. So, let’s get started with a couple of examples. Did you know:

– GPS technology came out of the military?
– Mobile telephony (i.e., mobile phone networks and your mobile device) originated in the military?

The next time you are in a public space, such as the subway station or a music festival, notice all of the people who use their cell phones. Then think about it. Ask yourself, where did all of this useful technology come from? It wasn’t Verizon, AT&T, Apple’s iPhones, Samsung’s Galaxies or T-Mobile. It was the military.

I think this project has the potential to be about a lot more than devices and technology used in the physical world. I would also like to explore intellectual development. Using education, for example, we can see how the military ushered in the system Higher Education we have today. This was, and is, mostly due to the GI Bill and veterans being included as an active part of every classroom.

The same applies to leadership transfer. Numerous studies and books have profiled leadership in the military, which is an influential area where the military has helped shape business and civilian leaders. There are also many practices and conventions used in the military, such as Commander’s Intent, that the private sector has borrowed and modeled successfully in their companies.

By bringing military and businesses/consumers together on these levels, we will have more understanding and appreciation of one another. It will enable us to learn more about, and from, each other. And, when we generate more awareness of how the military has positive effects on our lives, we will be able to celebrate Veterans Day for more of the right reasons.

If you have ideas to advance this project, please contribute by submitting any suggestions you have to me via email geisenbarth@militarymba.net.

In memory and honor of my Dad, Eugene Phillip Eisenbarth, Sr., who served in the US Air Force (originally posted on Veterans’ Day 2017 and reposted on Veterans’ Day 2022.)

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