By Matt Dubois — Chief of Staff & Director of Safety
Please join me on a detour from our monthly safety-related post as I take a moment to discuss Veterans Day and the Veterans that walk among us. Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served in uniform, wrote a blank check to defend their fellow citizens and survived the experience.
What pops in your head when you think about Veterans Day? I think about the thousands of brave “brothers and sisters” with whom I was honored to serve and come to know. I am often asked what I miss most about the military after being around it and part of it for most of my life. My answer is always the same — I miss the people.
Serving with my teammates was a true privilege, and I say that with the full knowledge that while they are all extraordinary for their willingness to serve, they are all also ordinary Americans. They came from all walks of life and for reasons that are as unique as they are, they decided to join the military.
Most of the individuals I met over the years do have a few things in common:
1. First, they made it through the rigorous screening process. Did you know that around 72% of current high school graduates are not qualified for military service? It is a staggering statistic. Once you clear that hurdle and decide to join, you begin the intake process and take an oath to our Constitution. Then you embark on very intense initial training that is proven to test everyone, regardless of background. You graduate on the other side of this training having met your demons and prevailed. It changes you. You emerge with more confidence. You better understand the meaning of words like duty, honor and courage. You have committed to something bigger than yourself.
2. Second, they learn the meaning and importance of camaraderie. When you become part of something more, you can do more. When you work toward a common goal, you form an uncommon bond. A shared willingness to sacrifice for each other. A collective refusal to lose.
Camaraderie isn’t just some feel-good byproduct of military life. Camaraderie is the essence of what binds the military together. Those teams that foster a sense of purpose, belonging, teamwork and eventually, a sense of collective pride in their purpose possess a unified strength. This strength is what enhances accomplishments, endures challenges and overcomes hardships. Because of this, camaraderie is a powerful force that instills the drive to perform to the utmost of your abilities for the benefit of each other, the team and the mission.
3. Lastly, every person I ever met in uniform, whether they loved or hated their time in the military, looks back fondly on their service. For all of the reasons mentioned above, Veterans are extremely proud of their service.
What are some ways you can honor them and help them reinforce their pride?
- Talk to them about their time in service
- Pay a visit to a VA hospital
- Attend a Veterans Day event
- Fly the flag
PJS has had many Veteran employees over the years. I am only the most recent to join the ranks. To all the Veterans out there, enjoy your day. You’ve shed blood, sweat and tears for our country and our fellow citizens. You earned it!