Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

Already Facebooked it, but thanks, Applebee's for the free dinner- I'm not a homeless vet, but I still appreciate saving money. Steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Mmmm. Steak.

It was nice to share some Veteran's Day recognition with a few fellow veterans at work. A little bit of a brotherhood there.

And as I think of my friends who have deployed, are deployed and who are preparing to deploy, thanks for your service and stay safe.

Ft. Hood last week- wrong in so many ways, and for those of you who are keeping track, no, I did not know the shooter during my time at USUHS.
Lastly, RIP J.J., Hurstie, and Umran.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Diversity Inc. - don't hurt the feelings of U.S. veterans

A few months ago, Diversity Inc. posted an entry titled "6 things you should NEVER say to a veteran coworker"

First, as we approach veteran's day, thank you veterans. A bit of a self-serving comment, given my return from the sandbox about 1.5 years ago, but I've gotten to know many more veterans in my time back, including a large and accomplished group of veterans at my new company. They all have served well and faithfully in many varied roles and contexts.

Second, to restate one of my favorite military quotes, “The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” (MacArthur). This one was recently brought back to mind as I reviewed an LDS DVD produced for LDS servicemembers back in 2005 (Let not your heart be troubled) in preparation for a presentation I made to an LDS seminary class. For those who are bearing the wounds and scars of war, whether physical or otherwise, thoughts and prayers for you. Recovery and growth may not be easy, and you may meet with varied levels of support as you seek health services through military, government and other means.

Now, back to the Diversity, Inc. posting, it was interesting to see a post which addressed a military topic in this way- I most often note their messages about their perceptions of the military's failures in diversity, most particularly related to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

I've been accused (rightly, I might add) of being either insensitive or ignorant about people's feelings.  So my opinion comes with that caveat. If/when people say those things to me (I've heard all of them except "Are you a lesbian?"), I have the choice to either engage in that discussion or not. Yes, some of the questions can seem insensitive or inappropriate, but most people have no idea about what they are getting into with that veteran, and I don't expect them to be super sensitive about it. They just don't know. Sometimes I'm willing to get into those discussions and correct misperceptions or let them know the impact of their simply asking those questions. Other times I simply let them know those are things I'd rather not get into.

What bothers me about the post, though, is simply the idea that one should NEVER ask the questions, or make the statements.  It feels to me like political correctness run amok. To take one of the more innocuous statements as a case in point:  "You're too rigid to deal with sudden changes." Now, since I've been back into the corporate life, I've been told that one of my strengths is that adapability to change- which is good, having worked for 4 managers in the past year due to a variety of organizational changes and my recently accepting a new role. That being said, if it was true that I was too rigid to deal with sudden changes, that is useful and important feedback- something I would need to work on.  And introspectively, I probably do need to be less rigid in my personal life. It would only be inappropriate if you were to make that statement to a veteran simply because they are a veteran, as opposed to basing the comment on observations about their behaviors in response to changes.

But that applies to pretty much any stereotype and prejudice, veteran status or no. You shouldn't say it if it isn't true.

And of course, just because something is true doesn't mean that it needs to be said. It always helps to pay attention to context- time and place for different things to share or not share. I didn't find it offensive to hear people tell me they support me, but not the war in which I was engaged. It doesn't make sense to me from a logical standpoint, but I don't find it offensive. It would be more offensive if that opinion was pushed on me out of context- someone I don't know, or coming from out of the blue as opposed to within a stream of conversation about the merits of our country's foreign policy and activities.

In sum, yes, some of those things, or even all of them, probably don't need to be said, but I feel like I should give the person saying those things a bit of a break and lighten up on my expectations of them just as I'd hope we can be more understanding of veterans facing challenges.  Can't we all get along?

In worst case situations where the person is completely insensitive and offensive- it reflects on them. I can dismiss their ignorance. It is easy enough to simply "break contact" with them or "slip away" to use some military jargon. If they resist and keep coming at me, it is frankly pretty easy to bring them to heel with a few well-aimed comments. That has happened only rarely however, and such people are likely to have never read anything akin to the Diversity, Inc. "careful what you say to veterans" posting.

Going commercial- a sell out- turned to the dark side.

Signed up for Google Ad Sense to earn a few pennies on ads when a sufficient number of readers click on ads through the page or through the search engine I've built into the page.

Of course, not having posted in so long (and not even having exciting content when I was posting), I don't know that my 3 or 4 readers are going to get me very far....

In any case, click away, baby needs some new shoes!