On November 11, Americans celebrate Veterans Day. The federal holiday honors the brave men and women of the armed forces who risk their lives to protect our freedom. They include members of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.
There is often confusion between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the latter of which is celebrated on the last Monday of May. Although both honor United States military personnel, Memorial Day is set aside to remember and pay tribute to those who died while in military service or from an injury or illness sustained while in military service.
On the other hand, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all US military veterans during war or peace.
The primary purpose of this day is to thank living veterans for their bravery and contribution to our national security.
The holiday, formerly known as Armistice Day, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919, to honor World War I soldiers. The date was selected because major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Allied Nations and Germany reached a cease-fire, or Armistice, which led to the end of the ‘Great War,’ as it often called. This day coincides with similar holidays celebrated in other countries, where it is still often referred to as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. The US holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 as a day of tribute so that all military personnel could be honored.
Today there are approximately 20.4 million military veterans in the United States. The brave men and women who have served and protected the United States come from all walks of life. They may be children, parents, or grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and all are an important part of our communities.
Recently, LP Magazine asked several military veterans or military supporters who are currently part of the loss prevention community in one way or another to share their experiences with being a veteran (or close to one) and what it means to them to have served their country. LPM heard from several individuals:
Kevin Lynch, executive director of business development for Tyco Integrated Security / Johnson Controls Retail Solutions Group:
“My name is Kevin Lynch and I am a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (1978) and a US Navy veteran. It was an honor to take the oath to protect our country. This nation, despite its warts, its political and social discord, is still the best place to live on Planet Earth. From Revolutionary War veterans to the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a guttural commitment to protecting the freedom we experience in the Unites States of America. There is a pressure, and many times, a lasting scar for one who has served in the military. It is not necessary to ‘Thank Them for Their Service’—but understand that a veteran may have put his or her life on the line to protect the freedoms we take for granted here in America.”
Jim Lee, executive editor of LP Magazine:
“Although I am not a veteran, I did have the privilege to witness firsthand my step father, a career master sergeant, and brother, decorated Vietnam hero, serve in the military. Both kind of fumbled their early adult years and were trying to find some direction in their lives. Then circumstances led both of them to the Army. They both flourished, and my stepfather made a career out of it. Discipline and pride of country became his mantra for life. My brother was just a natural warrior when our country needed warriors. Three years of service, of which two were spent in Vietnam, were enough for him, and his life thereafter carried the designation of Veteran. As a kid, I was taught certain ways to do things and certain things to say. Like make my bed immediately upon getting up. Keep my shoes shined to military specs. Do my own laundry and iron my own clothes. Stand up for the national anthem, remove my cap, and put my right hand over my heart. I am so proud of both of them, and honor and respect are my memories of them on Veteran’s Day.”
Melissa Mitchell, CFI, director of asset protection / retail supply chain for LifeWay Christian Resources and Air Force veteran:
“Being a veteran means that I served in the interest of having free and fair elections in which all citizens are allowed to participate, and allowed to express our political views without fear of reprisals. It means that I served to help make sure that people in this great nation can practice the religion they so choose, or not practice any religion at all. My service was in the equal interest of those people I agree with on everything and those with whom I agree on nothing. Being a veteran means that I am literally unable to make it through hearing the “Star-Spangled Banner” without tears in my eyes as I think of those who sacrificed so much more than I did. It means that I have an instant connection with any other veteran in the room. (Even of they were a member of one of those “other branches” of the military!) My service means that I have a deeper understanding of camaraderie. Being a veteran means that I was allowed the great honor and privilege of spending four years doing something very difficult, for very little financial compensation, but walking away with priceless rewards like the love and gratitude I have for this country.”
SIDEBAR: A 2016 Veteran’s Day Interview [From the archives]
In 2016, LP Magazine spoke with several military veterans who also serve as our friends and colleagues in loss prevention to get their perspectives on their military service, to include:
- Stacie Bearden, director of asset protection field operations at The Home Depot; who served as a lieutenant colonel with the United States Marine Corps
- Gary Smith, LPC senior director asset protection at Walmart; who was a deputy financial services officer and student navigator in the United States Air Force
- Brand L. Elverston, director, asset protection strategic initiatives at Walmart; a former field artillery officer in the US Army
- Kevin E. Lynch, LPC executive director of business development for Tyco Integrated Security; who served as an executive officer, USS AFFRAY in the United States Navy
- John Selevitch, digital editor at LP Magazine, who was a sergeant in the United States Air Force
How did serving in the military change your perspective on life and what it’s like to live in this country?
Bearden: My dad was in the military, so I was raised in a patriotic home. Serving in the Marine Corps allowed me to personally see the sacrifice our service men and women make to preserve what is viewed as free – our basic rights and our civil liberties. We have the right to disagree and articulate our points of view because someone defended that right with their life, in many cases. That’s humbling. It also allowed me to see the world. While there are a lot of countries I love to visit, there is only one I love to return home to – the USA.
Smith: It really gave me a greater appreciation of what our governing principles are and the freedoms that our military fight for at home and abroad.
Elverston: Military service instills a strong sense of loyalty to something much greater than self. It provides a prominent and durable sense of perspective. There is no greater honor than to serve in the uniformed services. Even with all our nuances, this is the greatest country on earth in strict terms of decency, compassion, and character. I’ve been to many other countries and experienced many other cultures and there is nothing like the United States.
Lynch: The military gave me a great perspective on what we have as Americans and the understanding of what is at stake in protecting it. It gave me an unbelievable insight into the concept of teamwork and accomplishing a goal as a unit.
Selevitch: I quickly learned that you can’t go it alone, you need to have a team and work together to achieve your goals. This has become more clear during this election season. Divisiveness is not going to help our country…it really does take people working together, not against each other.
What is the most misunderstood aspect of serving your country and being a veteran of the military?
Bearden: We talk a lot about sacrifice and pay homage to our veterans on key holidays. I think the magnitude of that sacrifice is misunderstood by many. While the benefits are good and tuition reimbursement opportunity is great, our junior enlisted are not highly compensated. Yet they voluntarily enlisted. Despite the pay and despite the risk, they stand that post on our behalf. It is truly humbling when you think about it.
Smith: In my opinion, although the work environment is very disciplined, it is not very different from the corporate world. Many of the core values of the military have bled over into corporations because they are relevant—Integrity, Service, and Excellence.
Elverston: Prior to 9/11, I’d say there were misconceptions and some devaluation of those in uniform but post 9/11 one can only say there is near universal respect and admiration for those who have sacrificed and committed their lives to a higher calling.
Lynch: The average American has NO CLUE about what kind of sacrifice a service man or woman has to make to defend our freedom. The time away from your family …the physical constraints and emotional strain are unbearable at times.
Selevitch: I think a lot of people see the military as an “employer of last resort’ for young men and women. My experience is quite the opposite. These are bright and talented men and women volunteers who are committed to serving their country.
What is the most difficult adjustment that military veterans must overcome when they return to civilian life?
Bearden: There is a command structure that translates well to some industries; it doesn’t translate to others. While they use different terms/acronyms there is so much that is easily transferrable. While they need to learn to speak the new language, we need to learn to help translate. There is too much to be gained from doing so – and too much to be lost from failing to.
Smith: In the workplace, I learned to never assume that all managers have been properly coached to be leaders of people. In my personal life, I learned to never assume that all citizens have a full understanding of what’s a “right” versus what’s a “privilege”.
Elverston: Distinctly different answers for those of us having serviced in combat and those whom have not. For those combat veterans, synthesizing those experiences and integrating back into civilian life is a huge personal challenge. Every combat veteran returns a different person – that’s an absolute. How that change is processed is what truly matters. For those not having served in combat, the biggest challenge was to understand not everything is precise and not everyone shares your deep sense of commitment.
Lynch: The realization that the general public does not understand the sacrifice you actually made being in the military…and the realization that here is a lack of leadership and empathy for the common man in corporate America.
Selevitch: Learning to stop waking up so damn early!
America made a huge choice this week [in 2016] as we elected a new president—and one that will have a lasting impact for many years to come. The weeks and months leading to this decision have been difficult—and at times divisive as we have worked our way through this time of change. But regardless of what side of that choice your personal beliefs may fall, we must never forget what a privilege it is to live in a country where we have the opportunity to make those choices. We live and work side by side with those who share different opinions, and then show the strength and determination to work together to make this country the greatest on earth. It is because of these men and women who have so honorably served their country that all of us are granted this tremendous blessing.
On this Veterans Day, please join us in thanking all of those who have served and sacrificed so that all of us can enjoy the benefits and privileges of living in this great country.
This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated November 9, 2018.