“Dear Mom”…A Letter Home from a One Day Warrior

There has always been an unspoken bond between service members. This bond includes an understanding of commitment, sacrifice, and training that has led them to possess the unique skill sets imparted through military training. The ability to think clearly under pressure, make sound decisions from muddled information, and work collaboratively while also being independently capable all come from a rigorous training program that spans months, sometimes years. Although service members possess these unique abilities, few, besides the minute 1% of Americans who have defended the flag, fully comprehend how military training imparts these skills.

Recently, the number of civilian organizations employing our nation’s veterans has grown dramatically. Although these businesses recognize our veterans’ worth, the value of their training still remains a mystery to those who have not worn the uniform.  What if, “hypothetically,” you were to take a group of Rhode Island’s up-and-coming business leaders and expose them to a full day of basic training?  Add to that the impact it might have on them if they were unaware it was happening.

On August 21st, a group of 51 members of Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) arrived for its annual Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Military Orientation Day. A day, normally filled with a ride on a C-130 and briefings aimed at the economic and strategic impact of the defense industry in Rhode Island, turned out to be quite different this year.  After a brief introduction by the ESGR staff, the unsuspecting LRI group experienced what would seem to be a primetime reality show as four RI Army Reserve Drill Instructors emerged from a nearby building, barking instructions and roaming around the pack as a hunter would stalk its prey. The day had just taken a very unexpected turn. Rhode Island Small Business Journal President Gil Lantini, or “Warrior Lantini,” (that day, all the participants were addressed in a similar fashion), commented, “It started off as a very intimidating day with drill sergeants shouting orders at us and setting an expectation of a way things were to be done, so we were required to adjust to that.”

As the day progressed, participants were placed into various stress -induced situations.  Concurrently, they also visited three of Rhode Island’s military bases, gaining knowledge about their integral roles as economic contributors to the state and to their dynamic role in our nation’s war fighting capabilities. The experience was magnified as “warriors” participated in military drills and ceremony classes, close quarter military combat operations,  a virtual reality convoy trainer, a firearm training simulator, and indulged in a delicious MRE (military meals made to be eaten in the field where kitchen facilities are unavailable).  To culminate their day, RI Deputy Adjutant General Marcus Jannitto, himself an LRI alumnus, presented each member of LRI with an ESGR “coin,” a military tradition symbolically recognizing his or her excellence for completing a day each was completely unaware he or she was about to experience.

Before being allowed to return to their normal civilian lives, each Warrior was asked to write a letter home, documenting his or her experience.  Michael Coelho, Director of Teen Programs, Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket wrote:

Dear Mom,

I had a great time at my military orientation day! It was a very educational experience. Our fellow warriors undergo tough, stressful, but EXTREMELY professional training. When I get home, I will do my best to promote employment opportunities for our Nation’s warriors.

Thank You ESGR, National Guard, LRI!

Warrior Coelho

Leave a comment

Avatar About the Author:

previous arrow
next arrow