The recent story of a few American military personnel stopping what would have been a massacre got me thinking: does that instinct of fearless interdiction have a value outside of dangerous scenarios? Or is this sort of violent application only valuable to the world of the military, security, and law enforcement?
On the surface, this is a sort of ‘feel-good’ story where the hero archetype stopped the villain from inflicting pain and suffering on unsuspecting bystanders. However, when the lens of veteran value to society is applied to the story, some interesting questions can be raised and hopefully answered.
The main protagonists in this story are a group of three American Airmen and National Guardsmen in their early 20’s. On instinct, they stopped what would have likely been a massacre given the antagonist had more time and distance to work with. Fortunately for everyone, the protagonists closed that distance with instinct alone.
“We just kind of acted. There wasn’t much thinking going on,” he said, at least on my end.” Stone replied with a chuckle, “None at all.”
This is the sort of instinct that develops from both training in threatening environments and in real-world deployments. These instincts do not come cheaply. Many thousands of dollars are invested into training each individual member of American militaries. More specialized training requires more money, which sharpens the instincts to an even greater degree. Most Green Berets have over $1M invested into them before they ever reach a team. This number doesn’t include the huge expense of schools and deployments for each individual Green Beret.
There is an unmistakable ‘value-added’ to the equation of veterans. But… (and this is a big but)….
Does it really matter outside of the military?
I have seen many arguments from both inside and outside the veteran community that being able to ‘shoot people in the face’ does not make you valuable outside of the military in the ‘real world’. While I completely agree with this, the most important lessons I’ve gained from my experiences in the military had nothing to do with the application of violence. The most important lessons I’ve gained from the military weren’t even really lessons in the traditional sense of ‘learned skills or knowledge’.
What I learned in the military was something that our three protagonists demonstrated with a flawless efficiency — confidence to act. When faced with an unknown situation, I spend little time fretting over what could be wrong or right. In these situations, my time and energy is devoted towards solving the problem and ‘closing the distance’ with a solution.
Making and acting on decisions leads to outcomes far preferable than freezing to fear and uncertainty. Had there been none of our protagonists on the train, I am very certain fear would have spread like a plague on this train leading to large numbers of casualties.
“When most of us would run away, Spencer, Alek and Anthony ran into the line of fire, saying ‘Let’s go.’ Those words changed the fate of many,” U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley said.
Asked if there were lessons, Sadler had one for all who find themselves in the face of a choice.
“Do something,” he said. “Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would’ve been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of, like, terror like that, please do something. Don’t just stand by and watch.”
In business terms, fear creates uncertainty, doubt, and a loss of opportunities. All things that lose money, which if I remember correctly, is the opposite of what business wants!
Do you have any stories or experiences where your instincts from military experience took over a situation in the private sector? What do you think of this advice for framing veteran experience to the private sector?