Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TIME Magazine Names Veterans the New Greatest Generation

In the August 29 issue of TIME Magazine, author Joe Klein names veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan the new ‘Greatest Generation.’ And while Klein focuses mainly on veterans in public service, the examples he provides also speak volumes about how this generation of veterans can and will affect change in corporate America.

Klein points out that many returning veterans choose to continue to serve their country by serving other veterans. These include John Gallina and Dale Beatty, both service-injured veterans, who started Purple Heart Homes, an organization that does handicapped-access projects for veterans; and Jake Wood and William McNulty, Marine Sergeants, who started Team Rubicon, which sends teams of former non-commissioned officers into disaster areas to organize logistics.

Other veterans choose public service in the form of political office and often return to school for graduate degrees. Dr. Elaine Kamarck of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government teaches some of these veterans and says of them, “Two things set them apart: they’re very disciplined, and they’re really, really serious about their work.”

Kamarck illustrates exactly what it is about veterans that makes them so appealing to corporate America; and Klein mentions Siemens and their initiative to make 10% of all new hires veterans. (Siemens has partnered with Orion in order to achieve this goal.) Klein continues on this point by writing that “returning veterans are bringing skills that seem to be on the wane in American society, qualities we really need now: crisp decision-making, rigor, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose, and real patriotism…Indeed, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required a new military skill set, far more sophisticated than for previous conflicts.”

And while the military community is lamenting the loss of some of its best young leaders to civilian transition, Klein points out that their loss is civilian America’s gain. General David Petraeus explains, “[These soldiers] have had to show incredible flexibility, never knowing whether they’re going to be greeted with a handshake or a grenade…I believe they are our next greatest generation of leaders.”

Klein gives the example of Seth Moulton. Given only a short time to come up with a business plan for an iPhone application that he had developed for doctors in Haiti after the earthquake, Moulton utilized an important skill he could have only learned in the military, the SMESC. Klein explains that the acronym stands for Situation, Mission, Execution, Support, and Command. Using SMESC, Moulton was able to come up with an impressive plan to present to the United Nations. When asked if he credited this skill to his Harvard education, Moulton replied, “Harvard Business School! I learned how to that in the United States Marines.”

Klein’s article highlights veterans and the skills that set them apart from their civilian counterparts. These skills are being applied to non-profits, public service, and civilian careers with zeal by veterans eager to make a difference. Orion believes deeply in these values and skills and is proud to assist America’s New Greatest Generation in finding rewarding civilian careers.

Click here to read the article.

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