Today we celebrate Veterans Day and we pause to celebrate those who have served our nation through military service. For those of us who served, we all learned something unique and valuable. Our missions and purposes were the same, but what we learned from our experiences was different for each of us and helped mold and shape us into the men and women we would become.
I come from a long line of military service. My Papa served in the Army Air Corps at the end of World War II and during the Korean War. My Grandpa Purdum was a WWII pilot (unfortunately he died at 31 years old). My Uncle is a retired Army Master Sergeant with a distinguished career. My father was in the Air Force during Vietnam and and I served both in the Navy and the Army (unfortunately I can’t find my pictures from my Army days).
I recently also learned from studying my family tree that my forefather, John D. Purdum on August 30. 1777 joined the Continental Army as a Private in the 3rd Company, Upper Battalion, Militia and was awarded the title “Patriot” by the Continental Congress after the war was over. I also learned that I have two ascendants who enlisted in the civil war. Samuel Purdum enlisted in the 59th Regiment, Illinois Infantry and was discharged after the war as a 2nd LT and his son Marion Francis appears to have joined the civil war with his father in the same regiment.
I enlisted in the Navy right out of high school from 1989 – 1993. I was an Electrician’s Mate, or I was supposed to be, lol. I say that because it was my dream to be a fighter pilot and though I was stationed at a submarine base I had incredible support from my command to pursue a commissioning program called Boost in order to pursue that dream. I still love reading the recommendations I have posted here for you to see.
After President Clinton cut the program from the budget for a few years, I left the Navy a much happier man. I married the woman of my dreams. It was the best decision I ever made. A few years later I would enlist in the PA Army National Guard as a Chaplain’s Assistant to pay off my college and a year later I would get commissioned as a 2nd LT, Chaplain Candidate.
After a month, the Chaplain I was assigned to left and they had no replacement so guess who the “Chap” became? Yep, yours truly. That was an interesting experience! It laid the foundation for what Nicole and I do today working with business owners, entrepreneurs, and their spouses.
So, all of that said here is what they taught me:
- Always respect those around you. They bring unique perspectives, skills, and talents to the table. Never dismiss anyone. Your life may be in their hands one day.
- Trust professionally, learn to trust personally. The military can be a brutal place. It’s one thing to have fun with people, or work with them. It’s another to share your life with them. Trust comes from time and experience with someone. Guard yourself closely. However, once you have a friend, you will have a friend for life. I’m so grateful for Jack Seymore and Mike Kindle who will always be lifetime friends from those experiences we shared together. I miss those times even though our lives have taken very different paths over the last twenty years.
- Work hard and take risks. If there is something you want, go get it. Work hard, be determined, and focus on your goals. Don’t let fear or fear of failure hold you back. You can’t fail if you pursue your dreams and goals vigorously. People will support you if they see the investment you’re making in yourself.
- Ignore the nay-sayers. They are everywhere and when they see you accomplishing your dreams and goals, they will feel jealousy and envy. Remove yourself from those people in your life socially. It’s not important what they say, it’s important what you believe about yourself.
- The sacrifice is worth the rewards and the disappointments. My experience taught me that the real rewards were not the accolades or the medals, or the pats on the back. The real reward both in the successes and failures was the knowledge of knowing I can do it if I follow through. It doesn’t mean I’m going to get what I want or what I’m working towards but it does mean that I have the strength, determination, and ability to see something through. That confidence has served me very well throughout my life.
I’m not sure I would have been able to do many of things I have done if not for my military service. I’m grateful for every minute of it and I wouldn’t take one thing back or do one thing differently. I learned so much about me, others, and about service to others.
The military gave me professional and life skills I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. The Chaplaincy alone was an incredibly rewarding, yet demanding, experience. The things they taught me changed my life forever! I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!
I hope the letters below inspire and encourage you (click on the image to open). I don’t post them to brag but demonstrate that as much as I have failed in business, I have also succeeded in business because of the values I just shared. These letters were the beginning of that experience for me. It was where I learned to believe in myself. If I could do this, you can to!
Join me for the journey,
Below you can see the recommendations I received for both the US Naval Academy and ROTC. If you want to see the recommendations click on image to enlarge.
If you have a comment, I look forward to interact with you below!