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Honoring Our Veterans

As we pause and honor our veterans this year on November 11, 2009, it’s occurred to me the pure expectation of a soldier encompasses all the traits expressed in the company's Human Qualities initiative.  Without redefining each human quality in this blog post, trust me in saying the soldier to whom we give so much responsibility is expected to be Dependable, Giving, Diligent, Honest, and Knowledgeable.

Any war, past or present, has had it's own personality of pure ugliness.  Bombs, artillery, small arms fire, torture, not to mention external conditions like heat, cold, snow, rain, darkness, etc., all elements we expect our soldiers to endure.

The United States has the most complete and best trained military forces in the world.  Our men and women go to great lengths and great pain to get it right during training so they can know what to expect when in the thick of battle.  Frequently, training occurs with live ammunition and conditions as close as possible to actual conflict.  It's unimagineably tough, very dangerous, and downright scary.

To try to explain the soldier's feelings of terror and not knowing what the immediate future holds is very difficult to do to someone who has never experienced this type of assault on one's psyche.

For some of our veteran's from the past, we can add Shame to the mix.  That's how soldiers returning from the unpopular war of Vietnam were frequently treated.  As one Vietnam Veteran, David Foster of Grand Junction, CO, told me this week, with tears in his eyes, "When I came home, I was spit on."  (this gentleman was a Bronze Star recipient!).

Let us never forget the task and the sacrifice every serviceman or woman is expected to make when he/she agrees to serve this wonderful country in which we live, the United States of America.  Whenever and wherever you meet a veteran, please do the honor of thanking him/her for their valor and service.  Welcome them home with a smile of gratitude and a hearty handshake.

Thanks for your time.

Bill Zoller
US Army, Vietnam, 1971