On Memorial Day, we paid tribute to the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms. Given the recognition to those who continue to protect us overseas, the characteristic I associate with our veterans is resilience. Even after taking off the uniform, their commitment to reaching a goal stretches from the battleground to the boardroom.
When I think of the battles our armed forces have fought in the past, the American spirit can best be summed up by the resilience shown by our troops when facing insurmountable odds. American troops throughout history have proven this time and time again. As a young Naval Officer, we learned about the Battle of Midway and how historic figures like Admirals Nimitz and Fletcher turned around the war and our fighting spirit just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Many military strategists believed we needed to wait until the end of 1942 to counter and attack Japanese naval forces when American shipbuilders would have the next wave of ships and enough trained pilots became available. By June 1942, U.S. naval forces were weakened and the USS YORKTOWN had been damaged in the Battle of Coral Sea in May. Needless to say, it was a risk to deploy our aircraft carriers into battle against the Japanese who were determined to wipe the remaining ounce of hope for the Americans. Repairs on the YORKTOWN were to take several months to prepare her for future engagements. However, American crews and dockworkers repaired the battle weary USS YORKTOWN in 72 hours with a mix of aircraft from other ships to take on the mighty Japanese fleet. Our gritty resilience proved to our enemy that we would not retreat and, ultimately, damaged our enemy’s forces.
I believe this spirit remains long after men and women transition from the military. Passionate leaders, many veterans return home and look to find ways to continue their service. One way that many veterans do so is by putting their leadership skills to use as small business owners. Making the jump to become small business owners gives them the ability to contribute to economic development and have a positive impact on the local community.
Opening up a small business is difficult for many. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. Yet, those who have faced adversity in other areas, such as veterans, know how to overcome such challenges. This is a key reason behind the success of many veteran owned businesses, as they have the ability to not take “No” for an answer. These men and women use their leadership skills gained during at times strenuous service to excel in business.
When I look back to my overseas deployment as a Naval Intelligence Officer to Afghanistan and traveled throughout the country to assess intelligence reports there were many of my colleagues that persevered through many hardships. Far too many of my fellow Soldiers and Marines performed above and beyond on a daily basis and never once quit in the face of danger.
If there is one thing I think about on Memorial Day, it is that those who gave all and, especially, their families should be remembered. We thank those mothers and fathers who did not back down through adversity to protect us. We get to enjoy our freedoms thanks to them.
Sergio Rodriguera, Jr. is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Credit Junction, served in Afghanistan from 2009-2010 and is currently serving as a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer.