- written by Cherrie L. Davis, ACC, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
As the global pandemic continues, teams are finding themselves reaching out to global networks to meet demands. As a Veteran, I am excited about the potential for people like myself to apply the skills the military imparts, not listed on a resume, that come from the cultural exposure military personnel and their families receive.
A friend told me about a game called Sagrada. The game is based on building stained glass windows. As she told me about the game, the likeness between stained glass windows and Veterans in the workforce struck me. Where stained glass windows are comprised of intricate pieces of multifaceted glass, Veterans are like one piece of that glass offering uncommon skills that can be built into the mosaic of the workplace to make a masterpiece.
What You See
On the surface, Veterans have the skills needed to meet the challenges of the current social climate.
Organizations are maneuvering to incorporate remote work, in-person work, and new assignments created by a smaller workforce.
During active military duty, tactical roles in artillery, mechanics, communication, and all the other moving pieces are learned early in military service.
The careers of military men and women are improved through experience and education during enlistment. When they retire from service, veterans are agile and disciplined with unique skills that allow them to fit into complex teams.
Veterans also have the added ability to operate effectively in ambiguous environments such as our current COVID climate.
These skills allow Veterans to become part of a well-designed team akin to the most beautiful, intricate stained-glass installations in the world.
Veterans are trained to work within a defined chain of command just like one piece of glass is essential to the overall presentation of a display.
The ability to adeptly work in these types of positions in a civilian workforce is assured.
What You See—But Don’t Notice
The military is notorious for rapid-fire reassignments, taking the solider from the known to the unknown.
In our minds that means a new geographic assignment, which is correct, though not always.
Civilians do not often think about is what comes with a new assignment which could be outside or inside the United States. Cultural changes can be vast, even if a deployment is only to another state.
Think about the old El Paso commercial with the guy from New York City who tries to acclimate to his Texas surroundings. His dialect is noticeably different, but it is the dietary divide disconnect surrounding chili. The commercial is an exaggeration, but it does a good job of demonstrating what happens each time a soldier moves from one location to another.
It becomes another opportunity to learn a whole new way of engaging new groups of people and navigating a whole new environment which is both a personal and cultural lesson.
Each military installation has pretty much the same setup which is a self-contained city offering all the devices needed for everyday life.
It is not until service members venture out to their new local communities where they truly build up their cultural and culture chops. Once in the community, military service men and women must adapt to language differences, navigation inconsistencies, religious norms, cuisine, and more.
Even seemingly simple things like knowing how to dress become important lessons.
These experiences hold together the mosaic of the culture the Solider will engage with during her assignment.
The skills learned on assignment are like the metal supports and veins of stained glass. They are key to the composition, supporting and holding together both the window and the Veteran. Not only do the Veterans themselves have this kind of cultural exposure, but their families as well, maybe the families even more so. They are the ones in the community looking for clothing, supplies that are not offered on-base, or maybe something as “simple” as a date-night place. Trying to find these things and places that offer them in a place where you barely speak the language and you cannot decipher the signs presents a large learning curve.
While military service men and women are deployed for a particular job, without gaining an understanding of the cultural framework they are working in, the job can be pieced together, but not stood up as a complete work.
The Winning Strategy
To win Sagrada, you have to collect the right pieces. Players earn points by achieving public goals such as creating sets of consecutive numbers or rows with no duplicate colors as well as a personal goal to use an assigned color as often as possible. Being strategic through the game lets you win.
There are more than 2 million Veterans in the United States, 216,000 of them in the Atlanta area. Each brings a piece to the masterpiece team you are creating that can be strategically placed to support the composition.
Veterans have experience stretching to improve communities while on the job. They arrive day 1 ready to be part of the team, contribute their talents, and lead when required. Veterans are the right choice for companies who are looking for diverse talent with the ability to compliment and align quickly with their current workplace.
What makes them a fit? People who have served in the military come with experiences that can easily be soldered into a company’s existing multi-dimensional, cross cultural framework. Veterans align themselves and support those around them, providing equity in opportunity and modeling how to leverage those too often overlooked pieces needed for cultural diversity.
Looking at the workforce in pieces, it is easy to see the frailty caused by lack of understanding and diverse talents.
When the right pieces are brought together and aligned in a meaningful framework, they can be fused to create a marvel.
Veterans represent the vast canvas of America: different faiths, ethnicities, and cultures, not only in their own, personal experiences, but through on-the-job deployments to culturally diverse locations. These experiences give our Veterans and their families the ability leaders look for because they can be soldered into multi-dimensional company frameworks making them ideal candidates for building the beautiful mosaic that is America.
Veterans represent the vast canvas of America different faiths, ethnicities, and cultures.
Veterans arrive on day one ready to be part of the team, contribute their talents and lead when required.
The cultural experiences Veterans and their families have, in addition to their hard skills, allow them to align with diverse teams with ease.
Contact me about working with VETLANTA to bring Veterans to your organization
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for VETLANTA
Cherrie is a visionary leader with 32 years of experience leading strategic human resources and change management. Cherrie is founder and President of ShiftForward, a Human Solutions firm. A recognized speaker, coach and author, is trusted by companies like GE, Walmart, Alabama Power, and the City of Atlanta. She is a retired Lieutenant Colonel (US Army) who has managed global assignments with NATO. Cherrie supports Veterans needs as a coach with Stand Beside Them Inc. and as a Peer Leader with Women Veteran Network (WoVeN).