What can today’s healthcare workers learn from combat veterans?

by | May 22, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

Imagine going to work each day armed with the best colleagues, the best technology, the best training, and the best education to battle a resilient, ever present, and capable foe. You do your best and people still die. Wake up the next day, do your best, people die. Then repeat, repeat and repeat.

Healthcare workers are learning in a COVID-19 world what combat veterans have struggled with for an eternity. What if you do your best and it is not enough? What if you do your best and you fail?

The problems, frustrations, and despair that healthcare workers are experiencing fighting COVID-19 and the maelstrom of secondary effects on patients are disheartening and all too familiar for combat veterans

Trapped in sweated soaked protective equipment, lacking mission critical supplies, cut off from friends and family, fighting a changing foe that is everywhere and nowhere, and working incredible hours without end. This could be Balad, Brooklyn, Fallujah, or Detroit. Counterinsurgency and COVID-19 too often follow the same challenges.

I am a small “c” combat veteran. A small “c” for combat because I only did a year in Iraq and a little less than two years in post-war Bosnia helping that country pull itself out of a genocidal, killing frenzy. My peers did six, ten, and twelve combat deployments between Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations across the globe. Combat veterans need to pass our emotional learning onto the country’s new frontline soldiers, healthcare workers.

Combat veterans need to express to healthcare workers that effort, caring, attitude, and resolve matter most when they seemingly matter not at all

One of my most difficult days in Iraq highlighted a massive car bomb that blew up at the provisional United Nations compound with an understanding that none, none of our massive web of ongoing intelligence operations detected the plan. On one of my worst days, I got back to work, and tried, again, to do my best work.

In Special Forces training, the mantra of “Do the Best You Can” rings through every operation, every class, and every Special Forces instructor. Doing the best fully acknowledges that difficult, seemingly impossible, mission sets are the part and parcel of a Special Forces life. The key part for Special Forces is that no matter the conditions, you do your best, and you do your best again and again no matter the conditions.

Combat veterans knew that to win we needed to go out and do our best every day, to help and keep faith with our fellow soldiers, and to always, always come back the next day willing to lead, willing to keep improving, and willing to keep believing that we would be successful.

Whether combat or COVID-19, I want the healthcare frontline to believe in themselves, believe in their training, and believe in their ability to win. I know that the true results of their efforts may be years away, but their daily efforts contribute to the coming victory.

Daily PR Updates

Essential PR industry news, opinion, and analysis delivered to your inbox daily.

Chad Storlie
Chad Storlie is a retired US Army Special Forces officer and an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Flagler College. He is a mid-level B2B marketing executive and a widely published author on leadership, business, military and technology topics.


More action than words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

More action than words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Next week, the nation will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal observance that honors the birth of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and provides a platform for organizations to communicate their commitment to his fight for equity and...

4 PR strategies to use when your business goes green

4 PR strategies to use when your business goes green

If you're running a business and you're in the process of becoming more sustainable, don't miss out on the gigantic opportunity for some great PR. Whether you've hired a PR strategist or you're doing it on your own, there are some tried and true techniques for getting...