When I was a lieutenant, I witnessed a car accident. A car clipped a brick or cinder-block wall, knocking it over onto a Soldier standing next to it. This knocked him over, and pinned him under the weight of the collapsed wall.
I ran to him. We were within earshot on a military dining facility, and yelled for needed personnel to assist. I directed some to stop traffic and control the roads, while I directed others to move to free him. I ask for and found those with medical training, to include medics from the nearby aid station, and got them involved in his care, including a Sergeant who took over supervising it. I found someone with a cell phone – this was, I think, 1998 – to call for the Military Police, and for someone to assist the driven in moving the vehicle to a nearby parking spot before moving with him to a nearby set of steps to wait for the MPs to arrive.
I then left. Everything was working, everything was under control.
When I told my wife about this that night, she joked about us Soldiers and our need to run towards the sound of gunfire. For years, she told her friends variations of this story, reminding them that if something bad every happens to them, they will want and sometimes even need Soldiers or just Veterans near them, during their darkest hours.
That sounds OK when we’re talking about crisis managements. Hiring Veterans because they have broad-ranging experiences and are adaptive thinkers, skilled at assessing and accepting risks can be smart. Those qualities certainly are, as we say, force multipliers. They can be a real gift to any organization.
But know how deeply that instinct goes. Outside of Paris, Airman Spencer Stone and Specialist Alek Skarlatos didn’t flinch in deciding to run towards a gunman on a train, in thwarting an attack. Yesterday, at Skarlatos’ alma mater, Army Veteran Chris Mintz charged at the shooter on the Umpqua Community College campus in an effort to save others, with reports indicating he was shot fives times and that he’s expected to recover.
Experience. Understanding what it means to assess and accept risk. Fantastic reasons to bring Veterans into your organizations.