On Veterans Day, Remembering and Recognizing Those Who Serve

By Michael Bryson, Senior Vice President – Operations

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Note: This column was originally published in November 2018.

By Michael Bryson, Senior Vice President – Operations

On Veterans Day, we remember and pay tribute to all American veterans. More than 1.3 million military members are on active duty and more than 450,000 are deployed around the world, including National Guard and Reserve units.

Veterans Day is a day to recognize all those who serve, to remember all those who died in service to our country, and to think about family members who support troops who are in harm’s way or families who have been left behind when veterans are killed in the line of duty.

I believe we also need to continue to pay attention to the veterans who are homeless or down on their luck. This is a day to remember all of them.

My own military experience began after my high school graduation in the summer of 1979. I enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point, where I graduated after four years as an armor officer and was commissioned in aviation with the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

I was part of a rapid deployment force, which meant that we had to be prepared to pick up and go anytime, to anywhere in the world. I met my wife at West Point, and we were together at Fort Campbell. Then we were both transferred to Germany where I was an operations officer in aviation.

While in Germany, we were deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield. During this time, our families cared for our young daughter back in the U.S. After nearly a year, we went back to Germany, and then retired from the military in 1992.

Fast forward to today, I am reflecting on how my military service taught me skills that I continue to use in my career. One key lesson I learned is that teamwork is critical. In the military, you do not get to choose the people you work with. You have to rely on others to do their jobs so that you can do yours, helping the whole team succeed. Throughout my career, in various roles, I have learned to empower people to be their own problem solvers and talk through their issues; this usually results in a better outcome for everyone.

On a day-to-day basis in the military you can be placed in critical situations. This experience gave me a clear sense of perspective on what is important. I had to approach my daily responsibilities with extreme flexibility and embrace new responsibilities and situations constantly.

I also believe that having a positive outlook is critical when it comes to persevering through difficult situations. Remain calm and prioritize what needs to be done to complete the mission. And last, but not least, always recognize others for what they do.