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Military Operation

Ace World Companies vice president Camron Ghanemi is inspired by a chance meeting with one of America’s young veterans.

I’m a sucker for spicy food so it was always going to be Reformulated Blazin’ sauce to give lunch a kick at my local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant last week. I winced as the fiery ghost pepper sauce built to a crescendo in my mouth. It’s a hot wing experience I’d recommend to any foodie bold enough to walk on the wild side.

People make huge sacrifices for my right to enjoy such trivial pleasures.

I could tell that the gentleman sat next to me wasn’t getting as much joy from his basket of food. It wasn’t just that he’d gone for a milder sauce. Everyone has different tastes. But he wasn’t tearing flesh from bone with any real carnivorous instinct and he moved from one wing to the next without the same impatience for more juicy, meaty delight.

We got talking. As it turns out, the guy had a lot more on his plate than half-eaten chicken wings. He was a U.S. Armed Forces veteran and was struggling to come to terms with life after combat. There are stereotypes about our army veterans, which can be misleading. In this case, my fellow diner was a physically healthy, 30 something with his best years still ahead of him.

Our conversation only reinforced my opinion that, as a nation, we need to do more to support our young—and old—veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the government’s military veteran benefits system, goes so far to enabling our heroes to return to society and keep them healthy.

Veterans’ service organizations (VSOs) and military service organizations (MSOs), meanwhile, have taken on the integral mission of caring for soldiers and their families.

We all need to do more to win the war, however.

Battle stations

Think of the service we get from the U.S. Armed Forces, which is made up of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy. Within each, those on active duty, reserve and guard forces, plus veterans and retirees, have given their lives in one way or another to protect our freedoms and the American way of life.

They don’t do it for adulation and no veteran wants sympathy or patronizing gratitude, but are they suitably rewarded? Rhetorical question. The veteran I dined with was too proud to suggest otherwise, but he didn’t need to. The severity of his plight spoke for itself. As everyone in the Buffalo Wild Wings gorged themselves that lunchtime, nobody spared a thought for this anonymous hero.

I read a disturbing statistic the other day that multiple veterans commit suicide every day. The article also revealed that some calls placed to a veteran suicide prevention hotline go unanswered or are put on hold because of demand.

Take a moment to think about that, perhaps whilst enjoying a leisurely lunch.

The support veterans need is varied and depends on the individual, their age, physical and mental health, combat history, support network and much more. Specifically to assess the urgent health care needs of veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a second “Access Stand Down” last month (February). The countrywide, one-day event resulted in a review of the records of more than 80,000 veterans to get those waiting for urgent care off waiting lists.

Health care is only one battle, however.

Soldier’s box

Given that many regular readers of this blog are engaged in business, I want to take an opportunity to stress that the corporate world can do more to help veterans like the gentleman who sat next to me at the wings bar.

The business community can make a mistake in putting veterans into one box. They are all individuals and have skills to offer. While they are veterans by definition, many may be suited to a current vacancy at your company regardless of military experience. A veteran and the best candidate for a job can be one and the same.

On the other hand, military experience itself can be applied to a myriad of roles outside the forces. Words like leadership, diversity, pressure, teamwork, tenacity and dynamism often feature on job descriptions. These are characteristics fundamental to success in the forces. Throw in respect, camaraderie, problem solving and more, and we start to create a dream candidate just by outlining the assets of any serviceman or woman.

One would never have guessed the young man at Buffalo Wild Wings was a veteran, blasting another misconception that veterans are too battle-hardened or institutionalized to add value to a business community. Yes, he was somewhat disenchanted but that was understandable given his plight.

When we started talking about material handling, the supply chain and logistics, he lit up as we applied his skills to the industry. Maybe he’ll become part of trade association Material Handling Industry’s (MHI) #IWorkInTheSupplyChain initiative as a result of our conversation.

Whether it be because of their inherent military qualities or their strengths as individuals, more companies should hire veterans and, as a nation, we should be better at making their return to society more palatable—and survivable.

Ace provides overhead bridge cranes, overhead gantry cranes, wire rope hoists, electric chain hoists, crane kits and end trucks. Follow us on Twitter at @AceWorldCompany.

Camron

Camron Ghanemi
Vice President, Ace World Companies
President, Pullift Corporation