Each Veterans Day, like many of you, I make sure that I take the opportunity to thank those who served. This year is no different. I have the honor and advantage to be married to a 23-year Retired Veteran of the United States’ Navy. While I am sure to make it known that I appreciate his service, I thought it would be helpful and insightful to learn from him what he appreciates most about his years in service. So, I asked him. Boy was I right – he offered a lot to think about and I wanted to share a few key takeaways with you.
Retired Cmdr. Linwood Toppin, Jr. shared that the Navy gave him a chance to see the world, just as his recruiter told him he would. Lin shared that traveling the world gave him a perspective that informs him every day. Being exposed to different cultures often gives frequent travelers this benefit. But for Lin it was so much more. For example, after being called to complete humanitarian operations in Bangladesh, his view of the poor expanded along with his heart and his need to help others, something he still works to do today.
Lin still believes the Armed Services shaped his career as a civilian in important ways, particularly building his confidence. Being on a ship meant the work was constant and the push to complete anything unfinished was always lurking. When on board, the variable that got him over the hump to do the hard things was not being able to opt out. Lin remembered how he could see a boost in his own confidence each time he did something that he didn’t think he could, which was occurring all the time.
Lastly, as a professional in Diversity & Inclusion, you can imagine that I found his observation that prejudice and bias dropped significantly as a soldier quite interesting. He explained that, while in the military, you meet so many people you would not have otherwise met, and when you team together and rely on one another, it is harder to hold on to old stereotypes.
We celebrate our Veterans every day and we appreciate so much the sacrifices they made to ensure our freedoms. I’m confident that you took the opportunity to thank the Veterans you engage with for their service. If the opportunity presents itself, ask them what they appreciate about having served. Their answers will no doubt inform and expand your perspective about our country and our great institution – The Armed Services. I salute my husband Retired Cmdr. Linwood Toppin, Jr. and all our Service Men and Women. Thank you for all you have done on behalf of all of us.
Dr. Lisa Toppin
Our theme song is “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by none other than Whitney Houston.