What does the current state of the Warrior Class look like? To be sure, there are a few dynamics that impact both perspective and analysis at the individual, social, and cultural levels. The ever-present negatives and the unfortunately unknown positives seem to create a sort of “fog of war”. And though the media tends to demonize issues and portray veterans in a negative light, there are even more examples of the positives going on around the nation through veteran entrepreneurship and businesses that utilize veterans in higher leadership roles than the main-stream press would often have you believe.
To start, negative media coverage often primarily focuses on actions by individuals in criminal endeavors, and the media likes to consistently point out specifically if an individual is a veteran or at a higher risk, such as this article here. The problem with this is the creation of a mass misrepresentation to the facts, and it seems to stem from highly biased (often political), framed, and misleading reporting, combined with a general lack of information the overall populace has based on the context behind individual events, and the misguided public understanding of the transition process as we have previously discussed in a prior article. To highlight merely one example, PTS (Post-traumatic Stress) has become the staple attention-getter used for increasing viewership, and the problem in this single example is that it is usually applied in general across the whole of all veterans. The media has therefore instilled a deep-rooted public misconception about veterans as a whole as a result since they have spent years working to create the image of PTS as the possible bombshell hidden within most veterans. This largely irresponsible form of framing bias has led to a generalized discouragement of open discourse in nearly every medium from employment to civil opportunities available to combat veterans, as well as creates a very real public misrepresentation of the Warrior Class as a whole.
So what does the Warrior Class do to combat these issues? Simple. They coordinate their efforts and achieve goals… Same thing they always do, same thing they were trained to do. A popular military phrase is “adapt and overcome”. This is similar to the “when life gives you lemons…” adage, but with a more important emphasis on going above and beyond, not just making due. We see solid examples of this in the hundreds of new veteran-owned business and NPO’s started over the last decade, but we also see this in veteran awareness campaigns, and even public education efforts. A good example would be retired Marine Corps Four-Star General, James Mattis’, promotion of the concept of PTG (Post-traumatic Growth). He wishes to dispel the [now common] theory that warfighters are “broken” and distance warriors from the trend of victimization currently rampant in society today.
Veteran efforts to achieve post-service success by use of their training and skills is nothing new. In the last decade alone, veteran entrepreneurs have created many distinguished brands and productive companies, to include: Grunt Style, Article 15 Clothing, Black Rifle Coffee Company, and Redcon-1 Music Group, just to name a few. However, there are countless examples of veteran successes as generations of warriors have built businesses around their given talents or become actors, writers, artist, coaches, or community leaders. Going even further, camp Down Range, headed by a combat veteran, uses “military-themed challenges” to teach camp participants leadership, optimism, and team building. Additionally, many former military consultants today travel to conduct seminars on leadership for big businesses and corporations the world over. These individuals exemplify the Warrior Class in continuing the use of their leadership skills in new fields and endeavors, and veteran entrepreneurs, consultants, and leaders have proven veterans are capable of adapting, rising up, and over-coming any and all odds as they promote the Warrior Class as the true professionals that we are.
So knowing that veterans are consistently able to succeed despite the existence of a promoted social stigma, we are left to ask, why is this significant? One thought might be that veterans are able to network on an entirely different level. They don’t need to brandish any battle credence. The fact of being a part of the community alone sets them apart in a different venue. Why? Each of them, at one time or another, signed a contract that included the possibility of death. Camaraderie has been built between those that looked to the killing fields knowing full well what waits on the other side. Better yet, even those in the Warrior Class that have never served still understand the ethos that drives the class and appreciate those that have committed to the path. As a result, mutual commitment to standards becomes easily visible. Better words are written in The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield, “Plutarch asked, ‘Why do the Spartans punish with a fine the warrior who loses his helmet or spear but punish with death the warrior who loses his shield?’ Because helmet and spear are carried for the protection of the individual, but the shield protects every man in the line. The group comes before the individual. This tenet is central to the Warrior Ethos” (Pressfield, 2011, p. 42). In other words, warriors always place the team ahead of themselves, and that’s a powerful core mentality in a society filled with individuals who consistently place themselves ahead of the team.
The most amazing thing about the Warrior Class is that it encompasses all. When the mission becomes the paramount issue, other things become less important. Warriors are able to set aside differences like no other. Diversity is more than evident, but the community prides itself on being of a single purpose. A few examples outside of service include: VFT (Veterans in Film & Television), Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, SVA (Student Veterans of America), Things We Read, Society of Military Engineers, and many more that are field specific. The list of large organizations, associations, and charities today is ever-expanding. Many are advocates in critical areas, and they fight for change in the political spectrum, like the VFW and the American Legion.
But perhaps what truly makes it all possible, aside from the connection of brotherhood all within the class feel, is the fact that veterans have been tested, hardened, and proven themselves through trials of fire that very few others could ever lay claim to. It is in their trials that veteran leadership – which has been routinely hailed as the among the best and most effective forms of leadership ever – is forged, and it is in trial that a warriors indomitable spirit is born. Resilience, therefore, is a key trait that provides this community a firm foundation to continue to make strides upon. As it is said in the field, “If it ain’t rainin’, you ain’t trainin’,” or “semper gumby” to highlight the adaptability and confident, competent perseverance of service members. That resilience is seen throughout the Warrior Class, through spouses, family members, and even friends, and warriors know it takes a connected community of support in order to do the things needed to fight.
Where would we be without this community? We just wouldn’t BE. Like it or not, the Warrior Class is here to stay, and for all of those that fell through societies gaps in the liberal years and were treated with less than admirable respect, you are to be commended. Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Stand and be counted, for now is the time to rise.
“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother…” (Shakespeare, 4.3, 58-62)
What are YOUR thoughts?
The Warrior Class will always be pertinent, but what are some other areas that could be highlighted to show how warriors impact society? How do you feel about warriors in politics?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Open discussion helps everyone learn and grow.
Pressfield, S. (2011). The Warrior Ethos.
Shakespeare, W. (1599). The Life of King Henry the Fifth.