I’m a former Naval Aviator (that’s a pilot who is qualified to land on an aircraft carrier for you Air Force and Army pilots). I spent seven years in the Navy and often wear a baseball cap with my Naval Aviator wings on it. Frequently this prompts someone to come up to me and thank me for my service. Even though this happens quite frequently, I am always a bit surprised and grateful.
I know that Veterans Day is the time to thank veterans for their service, dedication to the country and sacrifice. However I’d like to reverse the process a bit. I’m quite confident that I speak for thousands of my fellow veterans when I say that it is we who should be thanking you, not vice versa. Let me explain my thinking:
I went to college on a Naval ROTC scholarship. My family was not wealthy and this was a financial blessing for them. Even better, I got paid to go to college and was guaranteed a summer job as I was required to undergo military training for a good portion of the summer break. This training expanded my horizons tremendously and allowed me to experience new adventures and foreign countries that I would not otherwise have been able to do.
I met the love of my life in college and we have been married for over a half-century. We would never have met if not for the Navy scholarship.
I was able to go to Naval Flight School which provided me with all sorts of training and experiences, not just learning to fly. I became friends with several of my classmates and we (and our families) have remained friends for over 50 years. After getting my wings, I was assigned to a squadron whose mission involved extensive flying in the Atlantic and Europe allowing me to experience a variety of cultures and places greatly expanding my knowledge and perspectives. My experience as a Naval Officer provided opportunities to acquire leadership and management skills that have allowed me to be successful in my subsequent career pursuits.
As a veteran, I was able to take advantage of the G.I. Bill to buy our first house. I later used the bill to underwrite most of the costs of getting my master’s degree.
Therefore, let me thank you readers, the citizens of our great nation, for the opportunities provided by my military service.
Dr. Larry Phillips has contributed to MBPI publications in the past and is a management consultant, educator and author of SPHR: Senior Professional in Human Resources (1st and 2nd eds.). He is affiliated with Ergo Resource Management, Inc. in Syracuse, Indiana. Dr. Phillips can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.