6 Lessons Everyone Can Learn From Soldiers On Veterans Day

by Cristina Oliveras

Today is Veterans Day. To a lot of us, it means no school, lots of doorbuster sales and, hopefully, a day off of work. The meaning of Veterans Day can be of little insight to those who have no family members or friends who have served time in the service. But, those who do may see the importance of today a little clearer.

We have supported our loved ones through their times of self-sacrifice and loyalty, as well as the most demanding, dangerous, terrifying and noble times. Their acts of valor trickle into their civilian lives, and we dedicate this day to them.

Today takes us away from our daily protests and brings into focus whom we should thank for all of our freedom.

In honor of the veterans, with a very special recognition to my father and brother who sacrificed their years and served proudly in the US Army, here are five valuable lessons only a strong-willed veteran can teach us civilians about life:

The 3 D’s: determination, discipline and dedication

There are few, if any, jobs in which ability alone is sufficient.

Those words, spoken by William B. Given Jr., help emphasize the need for the three D’s for a successful life.

To be determined is to know you are capable of doing the task at hand. Regardless of a soldier’s insecurity, he or she is determined to be of value and of service to America.

Regardless of the pain, sweat and tears that come to a soldier in order to serve and survive in the harshest circumstances, discipline is what drives him or her forward.

Lastly, dedication is what gives meaning to the reason solders do what they vowed to do. A soldier is dedicated to serving his or her country through thick and thin; a soldier is dedicated to freedom. With the three D’s, your journey through wherever you have found yourself becomes more meaningful and successful.

Work as a team.

There have been many circumstances in which, in order to suffice and sometimes live, soldiers have had to appreciate diversity and assemble a team of very diverse individuals.

They have gone through very traumatic and life-changing experiences together, which has taught them the importance of a team. When it comes to life-and-death situations, external issues take the backburner, and people must come together to accomplish whatever needs to be done.

Team work is a building block to a successful life in the professional, personal or educational level.

Learn to work under stress.

A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life.

Imagine the stresses of a battlefield and making quick decisions with incomplete information with enemies at every corner hunting for a quick victory. There is no time to stress over these life or death situations.

Soldiers learn to analyze, plan for the best result and execute it. Take this lesson into your daily life when you are up to your ears in debt, or when you feel there's not enough time in the day to finish your work. It could be worse; stop agonizing over it and make a plan.

The value of our freedom

Not everyone in this world has the luxury of living without fear. Imagine the fear and anguish people feel where bombs are flying overhead, close to their homes.

Or, how about the countries in which the desire for education is reprimanded and confiscated from those who seek it?

There are people out there who don't have the right to make the simple decisions we take for granted and make for ourselves. We overlook our blessings as Americans, sometimes, and hearing it from a veteran is the most valuable wake-up call.

Veterans sacrifice everything to ensure our country continues to be “The Land of the Free.”

Embrace change; it’s not the worst thing in the world.

Change is inevitable in the military world; vets learn to cope with it and learn from it.

Embrace change, even if it is outside of your comfort zone. The most successful people have learned to overcome this obstacle and actually use it to their advantage.

Soldiers are constantly learning to cope with change of plan in missions. Instead of obsessing over change and trying to resist it, they learn how to change gears quickly and respond to change in an effective way.

We will all face drastic change throughout our entire lives. The way we respond to change is what makes the difference.

Appreciate your life and where you are now.

The hardest part in a soldier's life is leaving his or her life and family behind to do what he or she vowed to do as part of the US military. Soldiers have left behind unborn babies, unfinished business, responsibilities and spouses to protect and serve our country.

Some will return; others will not. That dire uncertainty fills the air with uncertainty and sadness for their families.

The best thing you can learn from a veteran is to appreciate where you are at this moment in life. You have the ability to determine where life takes you. Most of that freedom wouldn't be ours if it wasn't for the men and women who devote their lives to make America what it is.

All of the above lessons come from the men and women I have met who have taught me how precious life is and how important it is to handle things in the most positive and effective way.

I've listened to their stories, followed their pictures on social media and seen what they left behind to fight. I've been inspired to live my life with the mindset of a soldier, a marine, an airmen or a seaman. This day is for you; we salute you for your bravery, your perseverance and your passion for our country.

Again, a very special "thank you" is due to my own father and brother who devoted many years of their lives to the US Army. You are my heroes, and I thank you for all you have done for this country.

Happy Veterans Day!