Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day. November 11th is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended hostilities in World War I between Germany and the Allied Nations. Armistice Day was renamed Veterans day in 1954 and continues to be an annual celebration for those who have served the United States.
Reliant Funding is proud to have a number of employees who have served our armed forces prior to joining our team, we will be sharing some of their stories on our blog this month.
David Walter, Sales Manager
Years Active: 9+
Rank at Retirement: E6 Petty Officer, 1st Class
What does being a veteran mean to you?
It means being fortunate enough to serve my country and in my own way provide access to the freedoms we all enjoy on a daily basis.
What inspired you to join the military?
My family. My mom and dad were both in the military and were recruiters. I knew I needed some discipline and structure. In high school, I didn’t like going to class and had a hard time establishing a routine for myself to be productive. I remember a conversation where my dad after high school. We sat down and i asked him about his military experience and why he joined. He explained what joining provided for him over the years and what it would provide for me that would lead to a variety of lifelong skills I could use throughout my life.
What do you wish civilians knew about being in the military or about veterans?
When you are in the military you often feel there is a lot of disorganization. What I came to realize after is the military is one of the most organized and efficient organization for its size. Many civilians may watch the news and think “how do these things happen” but do not understand the scale and size of the organization because they have never worked in an environment surrounded by thousands of people everyday that spans the entire globe. Everything you do in the military, every job you have, there is a structure and hierarchy that is easy to understand and on top of that there are standardized operating procedures for everything you do.
When veterans get out, most of the time there is no one telling them what to do or what the plan is anymore. It is challenging to make the transition of having every answer you ever needed readily available and planned out for you to transition into an environment where there are very minimal structure and direction. In the military, if you have a question about who can help you, there is a list of everyone, their title, contact information and a description of what they do. In a civilian atmosphere you can get the person’s name and their title, but often others don’t know what that person can do to help them.
What was your most memorable experience during your service?
I have two. The first is my enlistment because my Mom and Dad reenlisted on the same day that I enlisted. It was a proud family moment. The second is the first time I went underwater on a sub, and we ran into a ship on the way up. I was in my bunk and suddenly bounced up and slammed into the top of my bunk. My shipmate screamed out, and I asked if that was normal. He retracted with a big “NO”.
What do you apply from your military service to your life today?
I took the lessons I learned about leading people at different levels but also took a lot of the things I learned from the leadership management classes the military provided to me. The knowledge I gained has helped me in a lot of different situations. Some of what I learned has applied in the civilian world, but some have not.
The main thing I use is the knowledge of connecting with people to gain their buy into whatever project or task is ahead of them. Some learn how to lead with a stick. What I found was more effective was to get people’s buy into what and why we were doing the tasks we were. People are more likely to work hard if they know the purpose versus being told: “because I said so”.
What advice do you have for servicemen and servicewomen transitioning back into civilian life?
What helped me was finding something similar to what I did in the Navy until I found out what I wanted to do long-term. It will help them get used to being in a civilian environment while learning the transition and not having to learn a new job all at once. Another piece of advice is that you are not old. I retired at 27 and at that point I felt old going into the job market, I have had four different careers since then and continue to learn each day.
Lastly, if you are facing any issue, go to groups with other veterans who are going through the same situation and conflicts. Use their experience and knowledge to learn coping mechanisms from them and don’t think you have to suffer alone. Not reaching out for help is why so many veterans struggle and these complications get in the way of you moving into another career and possibly the next excellent chapter of your life.