By Chad Storlie

Can veterans solve America's leadership crisis?

I am extraordinarily proud of today’s post-9/11 military veterans.

Despite a period of sacrifice that has gone on longer than the Vietnam War, the overwhelming majority of veterans are proud of their service and believe the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have made them better people.  Veterans have given a lot to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan; it is time that veterans revive the sacrifice they gave overseas and help solve the greatest challenges facing America.

The challenges of unemployment, education, housing, innovation, government, economic revitalization, and business growth are not too big to be solved, but they are too big to continue to be disregarded.  These are enormous challenges to the continued growth and leadership of the United States in the world.  Military veterans are the solution to be the vanguard of change to lead America through these challenging times.

Military veterans are the solution to America’s leadership challenges.

Veterans possess an intense ethical focus, they live leadership by example, and they have skills that immediately translate for use in a wide variety of industries.  Military veteran skill sets reside in planning, post completion problem analysis, the use of rehearsals, competitive analysis, team leadership, coaching, risk management, back-up plans, war-gaming, and decision making.  These skill sets are desperately needed everywhere.

Here is how veteran’s can start to help:

Elected office

If you are fed up with government, then do something at the local and state level.  The local and state challenges of matching budgets with needs are an enormous challenge and require capable leaders.  You may not know it yet, but your PTA, city council, and state legislature needs your help.


All of the great business ideas are not already out there.  Businesses form around a group of people that have a way to satisfy an unmet customer need in a profitable fashion.  Do not worry about starting big.  Get a great idea, satisfy customers, be profitable, hire, and grow.  Believe in yourself and your ideas.

Healthcare, education, and government

Industries that help people such as education, government, and healthcare need great people.  Many of these industries have a 50+ average age and will see the start of a massive retirement book in 4-5 years.  Get in at the ground floor and help people that really need your skills.  Veterans know how to build teams, create a plan, lead, follow orders, and exercise initiative.

Higher education

The Post-9/11 GI Bill was the most positive piece of veteran focused legislation in decades.  Veterans in education need to focus on two things while using their GI Bill.  First, complete your education and help others do so.  Veterans not attaining their post-military education goals remain too high – help others stay in school and complete their degrees.  Second, focus your education on skills in technology, education, health care, business, science, engineering, and mathematics that will create a competitive edge for your future and the future of America.

Veteran unemployment and business

Veteran employment remains shockingly high and no government program will have a significant and lasting impact on its reduction.  Even with high unemployment, businesses still hire people who show how they can grow revenue, solve operational problems, and reduce costs.  The military skills veterans have will help a company succeed.  Business needs to focus on how to translate and apply military skills to business in the areas of leadership, planning, competitive analysis, and safety.


There continues to be an intense and ongoing need for after school programs, tutoring, food banks, homeless shelters, and job fairs to name only a few.  If you have time, volunteer to help others and help veterans succeed in their career transition.  The thanks of a child as you help them master a new book is a great reward.

It starts today. The country is extremely grateful for the service of veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also the previous generation of veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Gulf War I, Bosnia, and Kosovo.  However, in these dire times, the country needs its veterans again.  There is not going to be any better day than today to start making the country better – it is up to veterans to start.  Veterans, you are the cavalry, now get going for America!

Chad StorlieChad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success.  Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective.  Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units.  He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States.  He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.   Chad is also an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE.  In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics.  He has been published in over 80 publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today.  He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.