The U.S. military is one of the finest leadership schools and professional development organizations in the world. There are few organizations in the world that provide the opportunity and immense responsibility for leaders at such a young age. The U.S. military is a place where 25 year old women and men are leading strategic initiatives with local governments in foreign countries, are responsible for managing hundreds of employees, and are managing multi-million dollar budgets. By the age of 35, these women and men are leading cross-functional organizations as large as 450 employees, coordinating operations across multiple countries, and stewarding multi-million dollar budgets and critical resources.
These opportunities do not happen by accident. Instead, the military has a regimented professional development system that trains, educates, and shepherds leaders from one career opportunity to the next. As Vice Admiral Rodney Rempt once stated, “We must both train for the known and educate for the unknown.” This quote is indicative of the modern military and the current movement to educate military leaders to be critical and strategic thinkers, cross-culturally astute, civically engaged, and population-centric.
In short, the military is a natural career progression to a career in local government. Aside from the more nuanced elements of managing in a local government environment, the leadership and management skills gained from public service in the military translates well to providing programs and services to your local community. The opportunity to continue one’s service from your country to your community is extremely rewarding, and allows you to see the tangible and observable results of teamwork and problem solving on a daily basis. The work is always challenging and there is never a dull moment. Serving in local government is by far the best decision I made since retiring from the military.
Darrin K. Tangeman
Pueblo West, Colorado