This past weekend I attended the Student Veterans of America (SVA) national conference in Orlando, Florida. It was an energized, activity-packed event with close to one thousand student veteran participants. Showcasing an awesome lineup of speakers who shared practical advice for making the transition from soldier to student to civilian employee, this conference reaffirmed to me that veterans are the best at coming together to help each other – in this case, helping their fellow veterans move forward with their lives.
One of the featured speakers, General Gorge Casey (former commander in Iraq and 36th chief of staff of the Army) told the assembled group to “not be hesitant to ask for and accept help.” He reminded us that, as leaders, we were taught that it’s not right to ask for help for ourselves. We learned to focus on the team and on what will make us all successful. Typically, we turn our attention and energy towards the lowest ranking member of the team who needs help with a personal problem. And when it comes to asking for help for ourselves, we often remain silent.
As you seek to move on to the next phase of your life following your honorable service, now is not the time to be quiet.
Fortunately, there was a lot of asking for, and giving of, help going on over the weekend. Recognizing the importance of networking, student veterans reached out to the older veterans and the many friends and supporters of SVA who attended the conference. Job search strategies, employment leads, and life lessons learned were shared over cups of coffee. And, the SVA chapter leaders took advantage of each other’s collective experience to learn how to be successful, not only as organizations on campus, but also as individuals.
Congratulations to SVA for putting on a first-class event that was worth much more than the $100 registration fee. A hundred bucks? That’s it? Yup, and only $50 for student veterans. It was truly a great deal.
I’ll spend the next few weeks highlighting a few of the insights I gained and lessons I learned at the SVA conference. Until then, who are you going to ask for help?