In the U.S., we now call it Veterans Day to celebrate the veterans of all wars. And in many Commonwealth countries, it is now Remembrance Day. You have seen the poppies, here and abroad, worn to remind us all of war’s cost.
What does that mean to women who are growing their businesses?
My own military experience came during a time when there were very few women in any of the services, and almost all of them were nurses. My mother was devastated at my decision to enter the military.
But I learned so much about people here and in other countries; knowledge that has informed my concepts of human capital and its value in any organization.
I often was “the first woman who…,” many times in silly little ways; but all taught me how to get folks back to the “core business.” I did the hardest work of my life in the military when I did casualty notifications. Business is easy after that! And I got my start in real technology-based organizations.
Need help for your business? Hire a vet.
There are a lot of reasons why some of our biggest corporations historically have hired lots of veterans.
Most military folks have great experience in “going the extra mile” to get the job done. Many have a lot of excellent training themselves and know how to train and develop their staff. A lot have the breadth of knowledge and the flexibility to really thrive in entrepreneurial businesses. They have great skills… and they define “dependable.”
Don’t be fearful about those who have been injured either; most do not need much assistance to become productive employees for you.
A little history
Certainly, it never hurts to know a bit of our history… or think how it influences our lives today.
I personally enjoy going into schools to talk about the meaning of our three military-related holidays – kids ask such great questions. And I love the stories of other vets. Stories which often are lost.
If you have a vet in your family, consider collecting their story for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Program.
The Army and Navy (including the Marines) were founded during the American Revolution. The Revenue Service and the Lighthouse Service were also founded then and later became the Coast Guard. The Air Force was first a part of the Army and became a separate service in 1947. The US military “total force” has three parts: active duty forces, the Reserve forces, and the National Guard. National Guard members are under control of each state’s governor until called for national service during wars and emergencies.
Civilian control is a basic principle of our military.
It is enshrined in our Constitution, which makes the President Commander-in-Chief, but reserves the right to declare war to the Congress. Our system of civilian control has been copied in many other countries.
Women have been active in our wars since the American Revolution. But officially, the first women were nurses in the Civil War in the Union Army. And in 1901, the US Army Nurse Corps was established.
Yes, there were women in World War I besides nurses – Navy Yeoman and Army Signal Corps women “freed the men to fight” by doing administrative and communications work. The flu and being gassed killed 400 military nurses. And long before civil rights, 18 African-American nurses cared for POWs.
By World War II, a Congresswoman, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers (MA) introduced, and FDR signed, the law creating the women’s army corps (1942).
Women defied tradition – and often their families – to serve, while the press often focused on ideas that military women were either prostitutes or lesbians. Four hundred thousand women served, and 86 Army and Navy nurses were taken as Prisoners of War.
The first legal test of segregation on interstate buses
came in 1952 when Army Pvt Sarah Keys, on her first leave to go home, refused to move to rear of a bus in North Carolina. The case was thrown out of Federal Court but went to the FCC, which ruled in 1955 in her favor; segregation became illegal on all interstate buses. Her case was taken by a WWII vet, Dorie Johnson Roundtree, who had gone to Howard University on the GI Bill after the war.
(After that, Rosa Parks fought segregation on local buses.)
Equal rights for male spouses became law in 1970 when a USAF officer sued for gain such benefits for her husband. Ruth Bader Ginsberg represented her before the US Supreme Court – you can see that equal rights belief in some of her comments today.
You cannot walk the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery or any other military cemetery without realizing the horrific immediate costs of war.
You cannot use your cellphone without reaping the results of technologies developed for military purposes.
In between, remember the vets you know.
- Check out this Korn-Ferry report on the impact of military experience on CEOs success
- Read about why the VFW Foundation and Why We Celebrate have launched the Return the Favor campaign, from Waxing UnLyrical
Image: © Jeffrey Floyd, FJP Auctions, used with permission
Patricia A. Frame is an experienced Human Capital issues speaker and management consultant. She founded Strategies for Human Resources to advise organizations facing organization and people challenges. Previously she designed and managed human resource functions for GE, Software AG, Maxwell Online, and others. A Wharton MBA and an Air Force veteran, she actively supports the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Check out her website, SHRinsight.com, for management and development articles.