Since coming home from war in 2004 after two deployments to Iraq as a Marine Scout/Sniper Team Leader, I’ve experienced firsthand the confusion that exists in the minds of combat veterans, as well as their civilian employers and family members, concerning the value of their skills and experiences in American society.
For the most part, veterans and civilians alike believe that skills and experience attained in the military pertain only to overseas battlefields. However, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, crisis management, and self-defense are just as applicable in the civilian workforce and family life as they are on the battlefield. And the elite training and experience our combat veterans receive in the military make us the perfect candidates to train and mentor managers, employees, students, family members, and friends.
How do combat veterans translate their military skills and experience to civilian life though? The approach I have taken is to provide civilian managers, employees, students, family members, and friends with hands-on, interactive team-based training that integrates military skills and experience with the already established escape game phenomenon sweeping the country.
For those not aware of escape games, groups of 6-12 people are locked in a room designed around a random theme (scientist’s laboratory, detective’s office, ancient ruins, etc.) and given one hour to solve random puzzles and clues in order to discover the code to the lock on the door.
These civilian escape games are marketed as opportunities for team-building and fun, but barely scratch the surface of the real training and experience that could be provided. Enter the combat veteran.
Instead of random themes and puzzles, they are given real world scenarios and problems to solve integrating role-players and practical skills sets that empower them in the workplace and at home. On top of that, they are given in-depth analysis of the purpose, methods, and solutions encompassed in each aspect of game play and how they translate to the workplace and home life.
This integration of military skills and experience with established civilian recreation and workplace standards creates the atmosphere necessary to motivate the broader American audience to participate and have fun while learning how military skills and experience are applicable to their daily lives.
Speeches, articles, books, radio programs, and movies are great at introducing the American audience to the value of our veterans. But hands-on, practical application in a realistic, fun, and relatable atmosphere is how the American audience will come to understand how their skills and experience pertain to everyday American life.