Don Shomette

People are the Prize

Learning From Our Veterans


vet day


Few organizations in the world rely so heavily on their members being able to apply the virtue of resiliency more than our Armed Forces. On this day, Veteran’s Day, it’s the perfect time to discuss a topic that is gaining (and rightly so) attention in the public schools.

It’s a great word and a quality that students need to embody. Kids break down too quickly, give up too quickly, and follow bad fads too quickly. And it’s not that they have too much free time or too much access to toxic information. That certainly plays a part, but that’s not all of it. It’s really because too many kids have too few guiding principles and not enough absolutes.

What do I mean?

Members of the military have to remember and live by the Armed Forces Code of Conduct. There are six articles and its primary purpose is to help its members to be resilient. And resiliency doesn’t mean that you can’t lose, just that you won’t give up while you still can or should keep going.

Here’s article 1:

I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

The next time you see a veteran or an active service member, remember that for them this is their guiding principle—their absolute—their power to be resilient, if you will. Without this high standard, it would be very difficult for men and women in the military to be resilient. And there is no shortage of remarkable examples of service members being resilient in horrific conditions while fighting against terrible odds. If there are experts in resiliency, it’s the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.

1.  Right and Wrong:
You can’t teach a person how to be resilient without defining what is right and what is wrong. The more solid the person’s guiding principles and absolutes, the stronger their resiliency. And yes, there are absolutes such as it is absolutely always wrong to murder an innocent person. A person’s ability to summon resiliency in the time of hardships and to be successful is really a question of the depth of their morality or beliefs.

Like in the military, if you want to strengthen a person’s ability to be resilient then you have to strengthen their depth of character. The military focuses on training their people to know what is right and wrong and we should do the same for our kids.

If we do, we will not only make them better people but by default more resilient.

2.  Killing Resiliency:
You can’t teach resiliency while pointing the finger at someone else and claiming that they have some unfair advantage. Being a victim means you’ve lost control. Being resilient means regaining or taking back control, in spite of the hardships facing you. You can’t live in both worlds. They’re incompatible.

Resiliency is directly related to the interior strength of the person. If you want to kill the resiliency of a student, tell them that they are a victim.

3. Find Purpose:
The most resilient people are those who know who they are and have found their purpose in life. You can’t teach a kid to be resilient while framing them to be something they are not. Or worse, trying to make them into something they do not want to be. If a person doesn’t believe in what they’re doing, it’s really tough to be resilient.

Everybody has a purpose in life. Help your students to find their purpose in life—not your purpose or what you think it should be—but their purpose. As long as it is lawful and directed towards some worthy good, let them be who they want to be.

Service members are incredibly resilient because they know exactly who they are and their mission in uniform which therefore defines their purpose in life.

Last thing about resiliency.

This character trait is critical and needs to be developed and encouraged in our kids. Like most virtues, the good it produces is not limited to just one aspect of a person’s life. Improving a student’s resiliency will not only better their own life, but it will also help them to be better people as well as better family members, friends, and students.

Proven best practices and research based data is always preferred when searching for answers. In the world, there is no organization that exemplifies true resiliency like our Armed Forces and they have plenty of best practices with endless data to prove it. If you’re looking for solutions and ideas, you’ll find no shortage of examples in our Armed Forces.

Today we thank all past veterans and current military service members for their sacrifices and devotion to duty. Thank you!

Author: Don Shomette

Don Shomette is a trainer, speaker, consultant, and owner of People are the Prize, a violence prevention company that helps people to prevent and survive a school attack. He has spent a lifetime working with police officers and principals and is consistently evaluated by those who attend his trainings as one of the best instructors ever. Don challenges, entertains, and helps school personnel to think of preventing violence in a new and positive way.

2 thoughts on “Learning From Our Veterans

  1. Thank you for a great explanation of resiliency. More importantly, thank you very much for your service in the Marine Corps. May God bless our country and every one of service personnel, past and present.

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