Nathan Huret • Dec 16, 2020

Like A Lightning Bolt

I recently received one of those notes that has the ability to “make your day”.  It was an unexpected note from the CEO of a HKY4Vets Talent Connect Partner, singing the praises of a recent veteran hire – a great employee that has already been promoted in a short amount of time because he “has been a home run”.

Day made.

As I begun to craft an appreciative response back – I can feel a long-held, but hidden truth rising to the surface in my words.  HKY4Vets, as it stands today – a ragtag but committed group of volunteers and partial time staff – will never be a significant source of talent for area employers.

I think when we started HKY4Vets, when we got over the initial year or so of just learning/meeting/seeking to understand and crafting some initial organization structure, we had these lofty visions of receiving these emails on some weekly basis: “James has been a tremendous addition…”, “We had been looking for months and were so thankful to have found Renae through the HKY4Vets program”, etc.  A literal wave of transitioning military talent finding opportunity (and a home here) over and over again here in the Hickory Metro.  I think we presumed that to garner private and public support, we had to “sell” numbers and the expectations that came with them.

But on this day, I openly admitted through this response these initial expectations and really this goal was very much wrong and has been for some time (yes, I literally wrote those words).  Our impact truly only has to be measured by one individual/family.

If by our efforts, we can positively “move the needle” for ONE veteran/military family, this alone qualifies the program as a success – because that one opportunity, that one connection, or that one resource can be positively life-changing.  It is happening – this organization is making those individual instances happen – one veteran at a time.

I wrote that phrase in my response – “one veteran at a time” – and it hit me like a lightning bolt. I had to pause because I immediately knew.  The truth had been there for quite some time, this was just the moment of freedom where you accept it and you feel like you can build from it.  To help one person is not a poor result or measure of ineffectiveness, but instead should be celebrated as OUR PARAMOUNT OF SUCCESS – because again, in that veteran’s shoes or their family’s shoes, “day made”.

That lightning bolt meant “one veteran at a time” was going to be our new mantra – how we could succinctly describe our work, our goals and the micro-level, 1-on-1 focus we try to place on each and every veteran we have the honor to assist in some small way.

After years without some underlying mantra it really did become clear – and really should have been something we always recognized, as every single person we have helped to date has always been done individually – one at a time.  Yes, we have built programs and funnels to reach a broader audience – which will continue – but if you look at our successes, these have occurred only on a 1-on-1 level after the rest of those systems have been passed by.

Moving ahead – our ideas of success will be different for HKY4Vets.  I think I normally would fear what our funding partners might think, but I think they are already ahead of us on this.  They know sometimes finding just that ONE right individual is a “home run”, their day made.

So, moving ahead the mantra for HKY4Vets will be: “one veteran at a time” – whether that is employing “one veteran at a time”, connecting “one veteran at a time”, strengthening “one veteran at a time”, developing “one veteran at a time” and beyond.  Now that seems right.

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