As president of Kauffman FastTrac, one of the greatest privileges afforded to me was the opportunity to work with U.S. Military Veterans interested in starting and growing entrepreneurial firms. I was deeply moved by the commitment and dedication to excellence of our nation’s heroes.
It’s not surprising then that I was immediately drawn to Army Colonel Drew Meyerowich. Drew is a decorated war hero having earned the Silver Star and the Purple Heart among many, many other awards. Most recently, he has lead the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. As he leaves the military, he will become Chief Operating Officer of the 98 year old Holland 1916. And, there is so much more to this amazing individual.
Drew reached out to me several months ago asking simply to get together for coffee… a guy after my own heart! During our initial meeting, Drew outlined for me his perspective on how Veterans must take ownership of their post-military careers by engaging in the broader civilian community and building relationships. Now, in fact, he and two local Veterans (all of whom are alumni of the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint) have organized a monthly networking social to bring together area Veterans with civilian business professionals.
I am proud to call Drew a friend. In a very short time, he has already imparted countless lessons to me. As such, it is an honor to share a guest post from him with the CLC Community and to wish all Americans, especially Active Duty Service Members and Veteran s, a meaningful Veteran’s Day and to thank them for their service and sacrifice to our country.
Guest Post from Col. Drew Meyerowich, U.S. Army
Movies, streaming video and the media have blurred the lines of what Veterans see, think, and more importantly believe. As a soon-to-be-retired Veteran with 28 years of service, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity I have been given to enter the Kansas City business community as the Chief Operating Officer for a great company. I want to take this opportunity to not only thank all the wonderful business leaders I have met, but to also provide a perspective that I honestly feel will benefit both Veterans and civilian business leaders.
The reward for all the terrible things I have seen in combat is the ability to cherish all the great things I see around me. If my value is determined by the people I am associated with, I am a lucky man. The outpouring of support that this Florida Boy has received from the business leaders of Kansas City has been incredibly humbling. But relationships are a two-way street. There are too many pundits out there telling Veterans that businesses do not understand them and will not make the time for them. Those pundits are dead wrong! In order for businesses to better understand a Veteran’s strengths, desires and goals, Veterans need to step off the cliff and seek engagements through community involvement and social events. I love coffee and I suspect that consumption in my own city spiked over the last year because of my countless networking interactions with so many remarkable people! It was the sharing of ideas that made each and every one of these coffee meetings special and helped promote mutual understanding and mentorship.
Businesses need to seek Veterans who are looking to the future and not to the past. This might be a difficult conversation, but necessary in order for businesses to hire the right employee. I am so proud of the men that I had the honor of leading in the battle made famous by the movie, Blackhawk Down. These brave men are the reason why the members of Task Force Ranger were saved that night in Mogadishu, Somalia. One of my Soldiers, PFC James Martin, died right next to me during that battle and this remains one of the most defining moments of my life. I have many other memories, but as a Veteran, I will not allow these events to consume who I am as a person. I strive every single day to define myself as the person that Soldiers like PFC Martin would want me to be and try every single day to earn their sacrifice though hard work and dedication. Businesses must look for Veterans with the same values, work ethic and team spirit that made them successful in the military. Veterans owe it to our fallen brothers and sisters to bring that drive and dedication into our great city.
The military and business communities have so much that they can give each other if both are willing to make the effort and open up the dialog. This is just the beginning of the dialog and I am calling on both Veterans and business leaders alike to renew their efforts in making this conversation thrive. I know this will definitely cause a huge spike in coffee consumption, but our nation will become better because of it.