On This Veterans Day

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Joseph Riippi, VP, associate creative director, Draftfcb Healthcare
My grandfather fought in World War II. While he never talked about the war itself, just referred to it in asides as a thing he briefly did once, like an advertising creative might talk about a routine market research trip—“so when I got back from Phoenix…”—he did talk about the people who helped him upon his return. He was a Finnish carpenter by trade, and having served his adopted country in wartime, there were many businesses around Tacoma, Washington eager to give him any opportunity they could. He spoke of these people with love and gratitude. He spoke of them as a model for kindness that my family and I should follow.

I’ve never served in a war myself. In fact, it never occurred to me as something I would do. I went to high school, I went to college, I moved to New York City and got an internship at an ad agency. Along the way, I tried to help fellow grads from my alma mater whenever I could by sharing stories, giving advice and answering questions. Whatever I could do easily.

Last week, however, I had the opportunity to speak to recent veterans through an event sponsored by Draftfcb in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project. Here were alums of a different sort. And I’m sure I learned more that evening than they did.

The veterans who came were interested in advertising as a career. We showed a consumer reel, a healthcare reel and a veteran already working at Draftfcb shared a few words of thanks and encouragement. Following that initial twenty minutes, a number of us from the agency simply did as the term implies: we mixed in.
I met many veterans, heard their skills and experiences with strategy and communications and saw in them a courage like I myself have never known. To do the things they did, work under such pressure like we never know, even under the craziest deadlines when getting a printer-proof out might seem like a life or death situation—I couldn’t help but feel that it should have been me going to them for advice, and not the other way around.

I couldn’t help but feel that I had become the person in Tacoma helping my grandfather.

I have exchanged emails with several veterans and am still in touch. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help, far more than I ever have with college alums. Because I’m trying to help. Because I’m trying to make my grandfather proud. Because I’m trying serve those who’ve served us.

Joseph DeFranco, VP, executive producer, broadcast production, New York
Meeting with the members of the Wounded Warrior Project and Four Block was an honor I will not forget. Spending an hour plus with these heroes was not enough time and I look forward to connecting with the Veterans down the road.

These young men and women want to talk to us about what it is like working for a corporation such as ours. Most are looking to find a way to bridge their life experiences with the expectations of an American corporation so they can become a true Army of One in the corporate world.

The best way to give back to Veterans is to find a few minutes in your life to have a conversation with them and let them how much value they can bring to the table in the American workforce. It’s one of the best ways to let them know that they will never be left behind.