Veterans Use Skills Honed in Military to Serve Members
For veteran Susan Rudnicki, the technical skills she learned in the United States Marine Corps from 1980–1982 have long been outdated. But the other skills learned in the military have influenced who she is.
She uses the interpersonal skills, determination and more daily as a Project Manager III at WoodmenLife.
“How to lead by example, how to give 110% in everything I set out to do, that a motivated team can do what others may think is impossible,” says Rudnicki.
“At the center of what it means to be a Marine is esprit de corps,” she says. “A feeling of pride, fellowship, and a common loyalty shared by those who have served.
“I developed a strong appreciation for sacrifice and dedication, for doing the right thing and standing up for what you believe in.”
Patriotism is Part of Our Culture
WoodmenLife’s own esprit de corps is one of the reasons she accepted the offer to come work here. She was drawn to the organization’s commitment to country and veterans like herself.
“This is a rare organization in today’s world that still believes that patriotic causes are meaningful and worthwhile,” she says. “I am proud to work for a company that has the same beliefs in Country that my family and I hold.”
Learn, Apply, Achieve
Rudnicki remembers a commanding officer whose example she tries to emulate. He had an open-door policy and was very approachable. It was her “first experience with a true leader of people, not just someone focused on getting the work done and not on the people under his command.”
Rudnicki learned another, harder lesson in the military, at a time when there were fewer than 2,500 women Marines.
After she was passed over for a programming position, she promised herself she would always try her best. She vowed to not “let anyone tell me I can’t do something, if it was something I wanted to do.”
She later learned that programming language and worked as a programmer for two years.
“I think this helped to set me up for success as a project manager by honing my critical-thinking skills and giving me firsthand experience in the challenges with software development,” she says.
Skills That Translate
Another veteran working at WoodmenLife Tower in Omaha is Mark Dahlheim, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1982–2007.
The Director of Print Services says he learned numerous skills while in the military that have helped him succeed in the business world and at WoodmenLife, such as:
- Active listening
- Following orders and the chain of command
- Attention to detail
- Leadership (what a leader does and should not do)
- The importance of trust within a team
- Holding yourself and others accountable
- That respect has to be earned.
Dahlheim believes it’s important to have veterans in the workplace because they understand motivation, leadership, team work, dedication, and loyalty. “They know there are times when sacrifices need to be made for the greater good. Many of them have been in situations that no human should be in, but they have the mental toughness and the ‘whatever it takes’ attitude to keep pushing on.”
Rudnicki sees the importance of having diversity in the workplace and says veterans often embody that. “We have experienced life much differently than most other Americans—whether it is traveling the world, seeing hardships and calamity firsthand, or living with the knowledge that today we may be off to war.”
For her, that translates into real-world skills, such as:
- Handling stress, setbacks and challenges
- Having a deep understanding of human nature
- Working successfully with just about everyone
“We are dedicated and loyal, hardworking and creative. We are a benefit to any organization in any field,” Rudnicki says. “Veterans are one of the best things that America produces.”
Learn More & Share
WoodmenLife is committed to this nation and the veterans who’ve served. See what we do at WoodmenLife.org/lead-and-give/patriotism.cfm.
As part of that dedication, we are sharing veterans’ stories and applauding their skills. Send your story to WLEditor@woodmen.org.