Continuing To Serve Those Who Serve
Colonel John Smith, U.S. Army (Retired), Director, Public Relations & Marketing for Operation Homefront-National
John Smith (Col, USA, Ret) recalls from his tours in Korea, “Stopping in small communities at local eateries or coffee shops … The proprietor and other town members who might be there would tell me that they never charge the military…with words to the effect, and almost the same, in scores of establishments: “you are over here, without your families, under harsh conditions, protecting our country. We would be ungracious and rude to charge you while you are keeping us free.”
30 years of service including duty in 25 countries has given John a unique perspective on the challenges facing our global community. Witnessing the almost primal living conditions in Somalia, the harsh winters of Korea and serving on humanitarian projects in Central and South America, the Pacific, and Africa have shaped Johns view of the role of our military. “I watched our military making substantial, positive differences in people’s lives, continuously. I realized that as a nation, we have no real understanding of “hard times,” even at the lowest part of any economic, humanitarian or security crisis here at home. Our military, and those who have served, have a much more pronounced and informed world view.” This experience will make our veterans strong leaders in our communities as we face our own challenges here at home.
John’s advice to our new generation of veterans? “Don’t expect them (civilians) to understand what you went through… expect to be asked awkward questions because the vast majority of the US public has not served.” As for what’s next after the uniform: “Your values and your work ethic are great currency, but it is up to you to put it in laymen terms so future employers can understand that.” And finally, “Know there are hundreds of organizations, and thousands of veterans who can potentially help you in this significant transition. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.”
John and his wife Angela live in San Antonio with their Westie, Buddy. They have five children, military brats all: Randy Gibson (who was born in Kentucky and served 5 years in the Marines); US Navy LT Christopher (Steve) Smith (Born in Nocona, TX. A wounded warrior, has been serving in the Navy for 18 years, now serving in his first command), Steve Gibson (born at Patrick AFB, FL); Sarah Smith (born in Germany); and Amy Smith (born at Fort Hood, TX). They also have four grandchildren with additional two due in December 2011 and March 2012.