Tag Archive for 'National Guard'

Redefining the title “Military Veteran”

America’s first military, the “Minutemen” militia, were shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Today we call them small business owners, but they were our first veterans.

Defining a veteran today is more complicated because there are multiple uses of the term. The Veterans Administration understandably has a strict, technical definition because it’s responsible for dispersing VA benefits. The classic definition is someone who has served on active duty for more than six months. But what about the volunteer service of the National Guard and Reserves?

For decades, National Guard members and Reservists have been comprised of two groups – those who deploy for an extended period and those who prepared themselves for a deployment. And since the Minutemen, America’s small business owners have been included in these ranks. But the past 20 years have required an extra degree of commitment from them because of the increased likelihood that they may have to leave their businesses for a deployment, possibly more than once.

Since 1990, two developments have created new expectations for America’s Guard and Reserves: 1) Three Middle East conflicts – Desert Storm, the Iraq War and the Afghan War – have combined for 20 years of deployments, so far; and 2) The increasing deployment expectations of Guard and Reserve units to augment declining regular armed forces numbers.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard and Reserves have accounted for one-third of U.S. forces, and a comparable percentage of casualties. Many of these patriots have been deployed two, three or more times. The Rand Corporation reports, “Use of the Guard and Reserve has steadily increased since the first Gulf War and this trend is likely to continue.” Indeed, you can expect the efficiency of Guard and Reserve assets to figure even more heavily in America’s national security plans in the face of impending budget cuts.

So on this Veterans Day let’s honor all who have proudly volunteered to wear the uniform. This includes members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed alongside the regular military, as well as those volunteers who weren’t deployed, but who trained and made themselves available to be deployed for years as their country needed them.

In the modern age of American national defense, if you wore the uniform of any of the armed forces you deserve to be called a veteran and receive the gratitude and recognition of a grateful nation.

It’s time to expand our definition of a veteran.

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Today on The Small Business Advocate Show I talked more about the role of National Guard and Reservists in preserving and protecting America’s liberty. Click here to download or listen.

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Remembering America’s militia

Reasonable people disagree on the origins of Memorial Day. But most accept that the practice of decorating graves of Americans who died in military service began in earnest during the Civil War.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander of the Army of the Republic, made Memorial Day official with General Order No. 11, which stated in part, “… the 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country …” And other than Congress making Memorial Day a national holiday and affixing it to the last Monday in May, America has since honored its fallen heroes from all conflicts pretty much as General Logan ordered.

When America issued its first call to arms – before it had a professional army – that call went to the militia, which was identified as “all able-bodied men.” Calling themselves the “Minutemen,” because they could be ready to fight on a minute’s notice, they were primarily shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Today, we call them small business owners.

From as far away as Scotland, America’s Minutemen were impressive. Writing about the colonies’ quest for independence in “The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith predicted America would prevail thanks to its militia which, “…turns from its primary citizen character into a standing army.” By the 20th century, state militias had become the National Guard. And in 1916, the National Defense Act created the Reserves.

Prior to the war with Spain in 1898, latter-day Minutemen served only on American soil. But ever since – including two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq twice, and Afghanistan – America has deployed citizen-soldiers alongside regular forces, around the world. Indeed, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guard and Reserve members have accounted for one-third of U.S. forces, as well as a comparable percentage of casualties.

On this Memorial Day, as we honor all who have paid the ultimate price in service to this country, let’s also remember the long tradition of America’s small business volunteers, including employees, who served honorably and courageously on behalf of a grateful nation.

It’s hard enough leaving family to march into harm’s way. But the degree of difficulty of that commitment is compounded for Guard and Reserve volunteers who also disconnect from businesses and full-time careers.

America would not have endured without those who “turn from primary citizen character into a standing army.”

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This morning on The Small Business Advocate Show I talked more about the sacrifices of America’s citizen soldiers and offered two poems in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Click on one of the links below to download or listen.

America would not have endured without citizen soldiers

Freedom isn’t free

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Let’s rethink the definition of a veteran

America’s first military, the “Minutemen” militia, were shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. We would call them small business owners now, and they were our first veterans.

Today, there are many technical definitions of a “veteran”; most are associated with eligibility for VA benefits. The non-technical one is someone who has served on active duty for more than six months. But those whose orders read “Active duty for training” – like most National Guard members and Reservists – have not typically been included in this definition.

In the past two decades, two developments created new expectations for America’s Guard and Reserves: 1) Three conflicts, including Desert Storm (1990-91), the Afghanistan War (2001-Present) and the Iraqi War (2003-Present); and 2) The increasing practice of deploying Guard and Reserve units to augment inadequate regular force numbers.

According to the Rand Corporation, “Use of the Guard and Reserve has steadily increased since the first Gulf War and this trend is likely to continue.” Indeed, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guard members and Reservists have accounted for one-third of U.S. forces, and a comparable percentage of casualties. As of August 2011, there were 91,367 Guard and Reserve members on extended deployment. And many of these patriots have been deployed two, three, and in some cases, four times in the past 20 years.

Consequently, since 1990, National Guard members and Reservists have been comprised of two groups – those who have experienced an extended active duty deployment and those who know they may have to deploy.

Since the Minutemen, America has been able to count on small business owners to volunteer for the militia. But developments of the past 20 years have required an extra degree of commitment because of the increased likelihood they may have to leave their businesses for an extended deployment, possibly more than once.

This Veterans Day, we honor all who served on active duty as a member of the U.S. military, including members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed along-side members of the regular military. But isn’t it time we also recognize those who volunteered, trained, and stood by to be deployed as their country needed them?

In the modern age of U.S. military practices, if you wore a uniform of any of the armed forces, you deserve to receive the gratitude and recognition of a grateful nation.

It’s time to expand our definition of a veteran.

I talked more about veterans and Veterans Day, as well as career coaching for and hiring veterans on The Small Business Advocate Show. Click on one of these links to listen or download:

Helping veterans return to the workforce with Adrian Guglielmo

It’s time to expand the definition of “veteran” with Jim Blasingame

Career coaching for veterans with Caren Shaffer, Profiles International

Hiring a veterans could be a business best practice with Caren Shaffer, Profiles International

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The small business connection to Veterans’ Day

Veterans Day has its origins in Armistice Day, which was first acknowledged by President Wilson in 1919, on the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, that took place “in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” Congress made Armistice Day a national holiday on November 11, 1938.

Alvin King a small business owner in Emporia, Kansas, had a problem with Armistice Day. Al was so moved by the death of his nephew who was killed in World War II, that he, along with the Emporia Chamber of Commerce, started a movement to rename and redefine Armistice Day as Veterans Day. His goal was to expand the recognition beyond those who served in WWI. President Eisenhower made the change official in 1954.

But who should be recognized on Veterans Day? If you’re looking for the definition of a military veteran, good luck. There are several variations on that theme, and for good reason. The “veteran” universe is associated with significant financial benefits issues, so the sanctioning bodies have a lot at stake in, “Who qualifies as a veteran?”

But the most common technical definition of a veteran is someone who served on active duty while assigned to a U.S. armed services unit. But is there a case to be made for a practical definition of a veteran, especially on Veterans Day?

Perhaps Adam Smith offered the first practical definition of a veteran when he described in his 1776 book, “Wealth of Nations,” America’s “Minuteman” militia as those who “. . . turn from their primary citizen character into a standing army.” This militia, like all those that followed, were well represented by America’s small businesses.

So should our modern militia – Reserves and National Guard – be recognized on Veterans Day? Perhaps this justification can be found in Al King’s original motivation. The unit his nephew served in was Company B, 137th Infantry, Kansas National Guard, Emporia, Kansas.

On this Veterans Day, let’s honor all those who served in defense of our freedom by considering this definition of a veteran from an anonymous author: “A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a check made payable to The United States of America, for an amount of: ‘Up to and including my life.’”

America has received this “check” from many different kinds of patriots who prepared themselves to be called to protect and defend their country.

Happy Veterans Day to all who made themselves available to their country.

Saluting our armed forces, including those from small business

Remarking on the devotion of his fighting men, Napoleon is supposed to have said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”

He was talking about an idea, a concept, vision, belief system, anything that a person values more than his or her own convenience, safety and even that person’s very life.

The men and women who serve in the military of the United States do so because of devotion to what their country stands for, and hundreds of thousands of them are currently still in harm’s way in two different conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lately the news media has abandoned most of what our military is doing in these countries, for at least two reasons: 1) Economic challenges are more compelling than war these days; and 2) just as 10,000 planes landing safely doesn’t sell papers, at least in Iraq, the recent success of our military in helping this country claim self-determination and install a form of democracy is now tantamount to all those safe landings.

But make no mistake, our armed forces are risking their lives every day in official conflicts as well as engaging in the training that prepares them to pursue a military mission if and when their government calls.

Today, more Americans are associated with small business, as owners and employees, than ever before. And since our global military commitments are increasingly being delivered by citizen-soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves, it follows that small business people are increasingly inconveniencing themselves on behalf of their country at the minimum and experiencing a high casualty rate at the maximum.

So, on behalf of all of America’s men and women in our armed services, not especially, but absolutely including our small business brothers and sisters, let’s all take a moment to stand erect, heels locked, chest and jaw out, and salute these 21st century heroes. Because when their country needed them, they said, “Send me!” And so they went. And so they still go.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about these special Americans. I hope you’ll take 6 minutes to listen to my thoughts and please, feel free to leave yours.




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