Finishing my first year as a graduate student of the Argyros School of Business & Economics, I have learned a lot, including a deeper understanding of the word “service.” This comes following my time serving in the Navy and following my first year of pursuing my MBA degree.

While most of us believe “service” is related to the military, I have always felt that it wasn’t solely based on a person’s military duties, but also a commitment to others.

The service of one in the military can be a thankless job at times. Being asked to defend the country, especially during times when the conflict isn’t properly explained, can be tough.

Our country does not have a draft, and yet men and women still volunteer to face our country’s challenges. They don’t ask for anything in return, hardly complain, and have a desire to protect others. Each man and woman ideally wants to make the world a better place for those after them.

I think that leadership today has forgotten the meaning of service. When I was in boot camp, our drill instructor would say, “A veteran is someone who at one point in his or her life wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount of ‘up to and including my life, and that’s all of you. Don’t forget that!'” To this day, I do not know who actually birthed the quote, but it is something that stuck with me. When you are 18 or 19 years of age, the gravity of those words doesn’t truly resonate with you until later in life. Current leadership appears to have forgotten the meaning or simply ignores it, but my time as a graduate student at the Argyros School has refreshed my understanding of the word.

In my opinion, we have a generation of men and women who have lived through arguably the one of the hardest experienced wars of our generation. The mental challenge of preparing one’s self for mission, knowing that harm will or is coming their way, and yet they still continue to prepare and go out. After finishing my first year of graduate school and reflecting on my past, I have finally come to realize that that is the true definition of service. As I pursue my graduate degree, I am hoping that I will bring bravery and positivity to society in a new light.

Former Marine General James Mattis once said with regards to adversity and taking responsibility that, “…it is vacant in our post-military society, where victimhood often seems to be celebrated.”

In closing I will quote General Mattis once again,

“No matter how bad any situation, cynicism has no positive impact. Watching the news, you might notice that cynicism and victimhood often go hand and hand, but not for veterans. People who have faced no harsh trials seem to fall into that mode, unaware of what it indicates when taking refuge from responsibility for their actions. This is an area where your example can help our society rediscover its courage and its optimism.”

“E. Pluribus Unum- out of many, one”