We the Partnership

Military veterans possess five unique attributes. A former Navy service member breaks them down.

By Parker Schaffel | November 10, 2020

Military service offers important benefits to the men and women who serve our country. During my eight years as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, I saw how the military developed skills, perspectives and qualities critical to service members’ personal and professional growth.

In honor of Veterans Day, here are five attributes that make our nation’s veterans impactful leaders and exceptional public servants.

  1. Specialized training: The military helps service members develop skills in several fields, including human resources, intelligence, logistics, strategic planning, information technology, engineering, finance, public affairs and cyber. This training provides those in the enlisted ranks, who often lack college degrees, with the skills to support unit missions and compete for quality jobs after leaving the military.

  2. Broadened perspectives: The U.S. military operates across the globe, and that means service members travel to lots of new places. In 2013, I was deployed to Jordan to serve as a Navy liaison to a U.S. Army unit. While there, a Marine Corps officer working at the U.S. Embassy in Amman asked me to drive with him to Aqaba, Jordan’s port on the Red Sea, to support a routine port visit from the USS Mason. I had extensive Middle East experience and spoke elementary Arabic, so he thought my knowledge of the region and culture would benefit the sailors, who had the opportunity to spend a few days on land and relax following more than a month at sea. On the ship’s second day in port, the Marine Corps officer and I organized a visit for the sailors to Aqaba’s largest mosque, during which the sailors toured the mosque, drank Arabic coffee and asked the mosque’s sheikh about Islam and Arab culture. I could tell it was an incredible experience for the sailors, many of whom hadn’t traveled far beyond their home state. These types of excursions and cross-cultural exchanges enable service members to develop new perspectives, which can raise self-awareness and improve emotional intelligence.

  3. Loyalty to the team: In basic training, military service members quickly learn to succeed or fail as a team. This is a critical lesson easily applied to active duty situations. Missions succeed because of cohesive teams that work together. And veterans embrace teamwork even after they leave the military. In most professional situations, veterans support team goals and put in the extra effort to make teams more successful.

  4. Healthy body/healthy mind: Physical training is a core part of military service. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that physical activity can help sharpen thinking, learning and judgment, reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, and help people sleep better. Service members need to stay sharp to thrive in life-and-death situations. Veterans who continue physical training after their service period maintain strong mental and physical health, and might inspire others to stay fit.

  5. A sense of duty: No one private or nonprofit organization is responsible for defending the nation. That responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of our military and its service members. That’s why the military’s service branches seek to promote values that inspire public service and a sense of duty. Take a look:

The Air Force: Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.

The Army: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage.

The Navy and Marine Corps: Honor, courage, commitment.

These values provide military service members with an important set of lifelong principles, making it all but certain that veterans will help inspire teamwork, public service and a passion for the greater good in the professional workplace and beyond.

On behalf of the Partnership for Public Service and to all our nation’s veterans, thank you for your service, dedication and sacrifice. We owe you a debt of gratitude.

Happy Veterans Day.


Parker Schaffel