By Diane M. Calabrese / Published November 2019
November 11, 2019, marks 101 years since the armistice that ended World War I. Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938, and in 1954 it was renamed Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is a time to pause to consider the contributions of all who served in the military. Red poppies still appear here and there on November 11, though they are mostly reserved for Memorial Day in May.
Yet red poppies—symbols of consolation and comfort captured in John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”—were once virtually synonymous with November 11. They reminded all that some who served did not return. And on this Veterans Day, it might be nice to display a red poppy in quiet remembrance.
Many members of our industry are military veterans. They have had experiences in training, teamwork, and conflicts that most of us will not.
We life-long civilians have gratitude for those who serve in the military, even as most of us lack a genuine understanding of what it means to serve. As one way to honor military veterans, we seek to gain some perspective from them on how their service has better prepared them for their roles in this industry—and in life—as well as what we might be doing to demonstrate connection to and appreciation for the service of military veterans.
And we do so here.
Commitment to Advocacy
“I was fascinated with heavy equipment, and I knew I did not want to go directly to college after high school, so I enlisted in the Army to train as a heavy equipment operator,” says Michael Schramski, owner of Aamerican Powerwash Equipment and Supplies LLC in Albuquerque, NM. “I spent two years in Nelligen, Germany, outside of Stuttgart, and six months in South Vietnam.”
One thing Schramski learned during service is that he did not want a career in heavy equipment. He entered college, earned a degree in accounting, and started a career in banking, rising to vice president of a local bank in Santa Fe, NM, just three years after graduating.
Schramski also had his worldview reinforced. “I’ve always thought America is the best country the world has ever seen,” he explains. “I feel serving in the military actually strengthened my love for my country.”
It was years before bank colleagues knew Schramski was a veteran. “I really did not speak of it,” he says, noting things have changed.
A founding member of the New Mexico Veterans Business Advocates (nmvba.org), which advocates for veteran-owned small businesses, Schramski cites success the group has had in working with legislators in New Mexico on bidding preferences. The group also sponsors an annual expo and job fair and other events.
Schramski’s business is CVE-certified, a designation earned and administered through the Veterans Administration (VA) Center for Veterans Enterprise. Attaining the certification takes time, but he recommends doing it as it simplifies interaction with federal entities.
The CVE is relatively new. “On December 22, 2006, President George W. Bush signed Public Law 109-461,” explains Schramski. “It was designed to improve the business climate for veterans, to minimize access barriers, and to inform the public about the benefits of working with veteran-owned small businesses.”
It’s important for veteran-owned businesses to know about CVE and also other programs, such as the Veterans First contracting program the VA established in 2007, explains Schramski. Veterans First considers service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSB) as priorities (first and second, respectively) when meeting acquisition requirements.[See the Veterans First program details via the link provided at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website (https://www.va.gov/osdbu/verification)].