Tuesday, February 7, 2017

(Day 87) What is a veteran?

Simpy put a veteran is someone that served in the armed forces for a period of time. They come in all shape and sizes.

Some of them enter as whiney little dweebs and leave the service as whiney little dweebs. Others enter as bullies and get cut down to size quickly. Yet others leave the service as positively changed people, a of more motivated and competent because of their service. 

Some served as actual fighters but most were not. It generally takes 7-10 people to keep one man in the field. Their jobs ranged from stateside clerks all the way over to special operations types and a lot in between.

I don't have a clue as to how many people it takes for the Air Force to keep one fighter plane up and running. I also don't have any idea how many people it takes in addition to the actual crew to keep a ship of any size afloat. 

Personally, I was lucky. I enlisted and picked up a combat arms MOS that was in short supply. I was trained as an artillery surveyor but spent time running an arms room and occasionally was detailed to run ad hoc rifle squads.

I was promoted ahead of schedule and got out as a Sp/5 after my 3 year hitch. The rank itself no longer exists. For all intents and purposes, I was a sergeant. In fact I never wore the Sp/5 device when I was promoted. I was ordered to wear sergeant stripes and was treated like one. I digress.

One thing that everyone that served was given was a fair chance to go as far as their drive and abilities would take them. The beauty of the services in my day is it was strictly a meritocracy.

When I served formal education was not scrutinized like it is today. I served under a First Sergeant with a grammar school education and a captain that had not finished his degree. He was taking night courses. He had been an enlisted man, learned to fly and had been promoted to a warrant officer upon earning his wings. He had later been promoted to the commissioned ranks based on his abilities.

My First Sergeant was another interesting person. He was quite a character and knew how to goet things done. He had little formal education and a huge amount of native wisdom.

I learned a lot in the service. When I briefly ran a small rifle squad it was my duty to see that I drew rations for them and various other supplies needed to run the show. 

Much of this was as informal as swinging my the chow hall and grabbing a couple cases of C-rations. Sometimes I would have to go to the training aids department and draw equipment there. I was responsible for issue and return of this stuff. It was my name on the reciept and I was expected to turn the stuff back in.

My battery commander, a non-college graduate captain, was responsible for the lives, comfort, safety, and utilization of about 160 men. It's a pretty heady responsibility for a guy still in his twenties.

While the lieutenants were responsible for the administration of the various platoons, it was the platoon sergeants that ran things on a day by day basis. Smart lieutenants worked closely with their platoon sergeants.

Next down the chain were the squad leaders and finally to the privates. Privates that showed promise and accepted responsibility didn't stay privates very long as a general rule.

The other services have and had somewhat different forms of organization but the principle was the same.

Most people left after their service changed people and if they didn't learn a lot of things about getting things done, they were most certainly exposed to these things.

Were all of the servicepeople good? Certainly not. Not all of them. There were duds in the service. It was really not a whole lot different than life in a well organized business. Still, there are and were a lot of things that even the duds learned. 

For one thing they learned to live with other people. The services are and always have been a hodgepodge of Americans of every kind. From city boys to country bumpkins, all races, all religions and of both sexes. 

Back when I served sometimes people would tell their career NCOs that there was no platoon of riflemen to lead back on the block. It's certainly true.

Still, a person that has led a platoon can take the same skills and use them in a later civilian occupation. Leadership skills are not generally job specific. A good platoon sergeant would probably make a pretty good floor boss. He knows people and he knows organization. These are important skills to have.

I recall a guy that was often looked up to by his co workers. From time to time during coffee breaks people would ask him for advice on raising their kids. He would offer it and more often than not it was good advice. He was respected for this by his co workers. His suggestions generally involved giving the kids more responsibilities and mor accountability.

One day over coffee someone asked him about his kids and he said that he didn't have any. Everyone looked a bit stunned. They expected him to be the father of a huge brood of kids.

He shrugged and explained that he had been an Army NCO and had run a platoon of combat engineers. When you consider that quite a number of his charges were still teenagers it makes sense that he knew young people.

Evidence of military service can even be seen in homeless shelters. Hand a homeless man a bunk and bedding and watch. If he whips up a neat bunk with hospital corners on the sheets in jig time and it's a pretty good bet the man was a serviceman at one time or another.

I won't say that hiring a vet is a guarentee of hiring a crackerjack employee. I will say that the odds of getting a crackerjack out of the veteran population are certainly a lot higher than finding one in the non veteran community.

For one thing proof of military service is proof positive that at one time the veteran moved out of his mom's basement. By enlisting he had written a check to the United States government payable up to and including his life.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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