Veterans Day is a time to remember and honor the sacrifices and steadfast commitment of those who have served in the armed forces.
From the front lines to the home front, veterans have demonstrated unwavering dedication, discipline, and leadership that extend far beyond the military. These qualities, forged through service, bring invaluable benefits to the civilian workforce.
The following veteran members volunteered to share their stories of service that not only inspire, but also deepen our understanding of sacrifice and overcoming challenges. In doing so, they continue to give. As we pay tribute to our veteran members, let us also express our heartfelt thanks for the invaluable gift they bestow upon us when they share their stories.
For several generations my family has served in either the Army or Navy. Serving allowed me to follow in the footsteps of my uncles, grandfather, and great grandfather. I wanted to do what few people in my family have chosen to do. Taking the oath of enlistment was my chance to see the world beyond the corner of Texas I called home.
The three generations who served before me served during wartime. I joined during peacetime but that changed 13 months into my service. You learn a lot about the fortitude of your leaders, your buddies, and yourself when you have to respond to world events seemingly in an instant.
Serving gave me the opportunity to be part of something that was bigger than myself. I was able to face fears, learn, grow, and form connections with soldiers and veterans who were some of the most loyal, intelligent, and selfless people I’d ever met. I knew that my time in the Army would be challenging. It definitely wasn’t a walk in the park but it was worthwhile.
My dad and a few of his close friends were in WWII. They never spoke openly about their service, but occasionally you’d pick up on a conversation around the campfire. I knew that my dad was assigned to the 714th Tank Battalion, 12th Armored Division, and that their unit saw duty in Central Europe. I also knew that my dad’s closest friends had seen duty in France. Only recently, I requested a copy of my dad’s discharge papers and learned he was awarded 2 Bronze stars among other awards and service ribbons.
My motivation to join the service was to take advantage of the Veteran’s Education Assistance Program (VEAP). I enlisted for 2 years active duty and my plan was to attend college after my active duty was complete. After Basic and Advanced training, I was stationed at Fort Benning, GA and did various training assignments in Georgia, California and Europe. Nearing the end of my 2-year active duty, I reenlisted for another 3-year stint and found myself stationed in Camp Darby, Italy, a small, fixed station satellite communications base. The duty was far different than what I had experienced in Fort Benning and I had a great experience travelling throughout Italy. At the end of my enlistment, I returned home to take full advantage of the VEAP benefits to become the first in my family to graduate college.
As I reflect on my military service, I was fortunate that I was largely involved during peacetime. For me, there were no assignments to unsavory places. We trained, learned honor, integrity and respect, and experienced challenges, both physical and mental, that I never imagined when I first enlisted. I am grateful to those that have served, those that are currently serving and think about them often, especially now as the Middle East is becoming more unsettled. I am proud to have served and try to take time to talk with members in uniform when I see them on the street, grocery stores or while travelling. Somehow a simple “Thanks for Your Service” never seems quite enough, but when I’m on the receiving end of that statement I am gracious and proud to have served.
The decision to join the Marine Corps was a natural progression in my journey to adulthood. I belong to a lineage of patrons who served in different branches of the armed services. As a very competitive and presumptuous teen (not much has changed), I embarked on the journey of service that was expected to be one the more difficult of the paths. To further create challenges in my journey to adulthood, I chose a basic and rigorous path within the Marine Corps. Rather than applying for a Military Occupational Specialty of a trade that would eventually lead to greater knowledge and a more enticing career in the civilian world, I again chose a path that was expected to be difficult and produce little glory: O311, Infantry, affectionately referred to as “bullet blockers,” was the only MOS that I elected.
While on active duty, the comradery and selflessness of fellow Devil Dogs, was an unexpected but wonderful experience. Training in Mountain Warfare School, Desert Warfare School, Extreme Cold Weather Combat Training, Amphibious Assault Training, and Urban Combat Training were challenging and relentless. But the most fulfilling and often unrealized benefits were the deep bonds that you made with fellow service members during the struggles and triumphs that the training exercises inflicted.
I had several motivations to join the service, but mostly I wanted to serve and protect my country. I wanted to do something, not just talk. And I was younger, so there was also an opportunity to see and do things that aren’t typical at that stage in your life.
The service was good for me. I learned self-discipline and teamwork, and I got so much more out of it than I expected. That was my first real lesson in “you get out what you put in,” which applies to just about anything.
I’ve been fortunate in my life, and now I see service as giving back to other people. I subscribe to the notion of service-based leadership. I see my role as helping my team learn and grow so they can be the best they can be, which makes all of us better.
The U.S. Army is a value-based organization – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage – which aligns with Foth’s values almost one to one. A lot of companies have mission and vision statements, but it’s a lot of talk. I’ve found it to be different at Foth; they mean what they say.
Growing up, I appreciated that many people had served and sacrificed in various capacities to preserve the freedom, stability, and opportunity I enjoyed growing up. I wanted to do what I could to pay it forward for others, and military service was one way to do that.
I also saw military service as a path for personal and professional growth. Coming from a small town in Montana, I knew there was a lot more to experience “out there” like new geographies, cultures, and ideas. Leadership as a career path intrigued me, and military leadership training and experience, mostly under dynamic and challenging situations, seemed like a great way to start along that path. And in general, I thought service would provide opportunity to experience things I wouldn’t otherwise see as a civilian, including physically and mentally demanding training, challenging operational assignments, and overseas deployments. My time in the military, and the people, training, travel, and assignments along the way profoundly shaped my life and career, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have served.
I saw the opportunity to join the military as a way to experience the world outside of my limited view growing up. As a farm kid from eastern Iowa, I always wanted to see the world and found the military could be an option to do that. Having played multiple sports in high school, I also had an immense desire to continue to be part of a team and saw the military as an option to be able to do this. A team with the ultimate stakes on the line potentially. The military proved to fulfill both of my desires. I have traveled around the world and to this day feel part of a team with other veterans.
I would encourage any young person to give the military a consideration as I believe it helps young people mature and gives them experiences that help develop skills you can call upon for the rest of your life. If I could go back in time and do it all over again I would in a heartbeat.
When you travel the world, you quickly realize how lucky we are to be in the greatest country in the world and you develop an incredible sense of pride in America. Having traveled to third-world countries, you truly get perspective and realize how much we take for granted every day and that is truly humbling.
I joined the military after high school and all the usual reasons spoke to me, such as serving my country, getting military training, money for college, and traveling to unlikely places. I also was strangely excited for the experience of Boot Camp. I sort of signed an 8-year contract because I really wanted to get beat up and tested for the first 9 weeks of it. The military culture and values turned out to be a great fit for me. I served over 20 years in the Army Reserve and retired 2021.
I grew to become extremely proud to be a part of a community that represents less than 1% of the nation, and yet is an extremely diverse group of people. I have no regrets really, just wondering what serving in a different branch of the military would have been like. Any experience comes down to the work you complete, places you experience, and people you are with along the way. The military is no different. I walked away with priceless experiences that almost seem unreal and served with some of my favorite people I’ve ever met.
Coming from a family with quite a few prior service veterans, I was raised to have pride in my country.
There was a certain pride to be part of “the club” when visiting relatives, and serving my country was pretty much a natural step in maturing.
One of the best parts is being around other veterans and knowing there are very few that understand what being a veteran means.
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