The Weight of Reflection

Service and Culture in My Life

To honor Veterans in November we think about and thank individuals for their military service. For many, this may be one of the few times during the year that they reflect upon what military service means to our nation and how that service impacts the lives of those involved. As a Veteran, however, I have had the opposite situation. I was looking back and reflecting on my military experience almost every day for the last decade since leaving active service. In the first few years it was sometimes a struggle to consistently pay as much attention to the present, as I spent a lot of time and energy trying to drown out the noise and memories of what I encountered in military service in the past.

My reflections had an invisible weight that I did not anticipate as I was trying to be fully present in the here and now.

I served as an Infantry Officer in the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army from 2005 through 2011. I deployed as a Platoon Leader to Iraq from September 2007 through the end of November 2008 and again as an Operations/Staff Officer to Afghanistan from January 2010 through July 2010. Nothing could have prepared me for either experience. But what I have learned and truly appreciate is we all walk our own path in life with its own burdens, hardships and, ultimately, we are a reflection of those experiences. No matter the situation or threat, we decide to either rise to the challenge or shrink in the face of it. This is not unique to the military or those who serve; it is about our resiliency or capacity to adapt and thrive.

For me, as hard as my deployments were, nothing could have prepared me for the challenge of leaving behind the culture of the military that had become so ingrained. Early on in my civilian career, I would use Google constantly to help me translate the business culture – things like language and practices – into something that I could understand and, more importantly, leverage in my day-to-day life. But that scenario isn’t unique to Veterans. Anyone joining a new team, organization or company is challenged in the same way to learn a new culture. In the military, culture is the difference between success and failure, life and death. We live and die by it, but we come to believe in its undeniable power and its ability to bind us together to meet a common challenge.

Peter Drucker says, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” but I think it’s better described as culture is everything. In Pitney Bowes I have found a culture that I believe is one of our greatest assets, with our people it’s our foundation. Healthy cultures hold one another accountable and demand us to critique our decisions and actions so we grow and improve together. The last few years at Pitney Bowes have been all about transformation, our culture is the differentiator between success and failure, vitality, or stagnation - and we are very much alive.

Serving our country is my experience, but it isn’t necessarily more or less valuable than yours. We are more alike and have more in common than we realize or give ourselves credit for.

I am beyond grateful to have found my way here when I left the military; in many ways the culture of Pitney Bowes showed me that a life beyond the uniform was possible and within reach. For that opportunity, which many of my contemporaries didn’t receive, I am eternally grateful.

The power of culture helped me use the weight of my reflections on military life to successfully shape and to transition to this next phase of life.

To all of my fellow Veterans, thank you for your service - in whatever capacity it was, we all play our part.

To the families, friends and loved ones of a Veteran, your support and caring comes without any metric or ribbon but is no less impactful. Thank you.

Lastly, for my fallen brothers and sisters, I remember you and will carry you with me for the rest of my life.

Deeds, not words- 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division