The Day of the Deployed is a nationally recognized holiday honoring those brave souls that spend months and years overseas completely separated from their loved ones to defend this free country. As of August 2017, approximately 1.3 million men and women were stationed far from home. Though their sacrifice is great — and profoundly appreciated — no one really focuses on their lives after they return; what lives do they lead, and how are they able to bring what they've learned during their service into civilian life?
For Daniel Ganoza, the transition was a no-brainer. After serving two decades in the U.S. Air Force, he decided to become a high school teacher at Woodland Park High School west of Colorado Springs.
"I had selfish reasons for wanting to be a teacher," Ganoza explained. "When I was in the Air Force I had been away from home so much. My oldest two daughters were born and graduated high school while I was still in the military and I'm afraid I missed much of their growing up. But my youngest child, my son, was starting high school as I was set to leave the military. What a better way for me to try to connect with my son than to be a teacher at his school, to have him and his friends in class, and to coach their sports teams?"
Though his son has since graduated, Ganoza continues to enjoy teaching. By incorporating the skills he had learned during his time in the Air Force, he has been able to connect with his students.
"In the military, every person had value and their success influenced your success. If they failed, it made things harder on the whole organization," he said. "Unfortunately, some kids fail my class and some kids drop out of school. But if I treat my students as if they are one of my troops in the military — if they feel like they are important to me and that I need them to do well, if they feel like my success depends on their success, if they feel like there is something unique and special about them that makes them valuable to me — then maybe for some kids that's the difference it takes."
Ganoza exemplifies leadership in the most understanding and vital way possible. Since good leaders are hard to come by, it's no surprise that the military — whether you're Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps — is always on the lookout for such talent. In fact, the Army has compiled a list that transcribes surprisingly well to the classroom. A leader must:
Compared to business relational values (which include inclusion, empowerment, purposefulness, ethical behaviors, and process orientation) the differences aren't very, well, different. Ganoza states that the best advice he can give regarding teaching has to do with support — or empowerment.
"Sometimes, all it takes is for just one person to believe in you and you can do anything — you can do the impossible."
Though Ganoza has made a happy and satisfying life for himself, not everyone who leaves military service is as lucky; approximately 25% of veterans live with arthritis. In fact, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form because it is caused by simple 'wear and tear.' When you consider the fact that soldiers are frequently required to carry heavy packs, experience exposure to shock waves from bomb blasts, and are much more likely to get injured, the resulting — and lasting — damage is almost expected.
Although an estimated 50 million Americans are currently living with arthritis, not all of them developed it through rigorous and demanding military service. Ganoza, despite missing the birth and high school graduation of his two daughters, is one of the lucky ones.