Saluting Our HBS Veterans
Blake Hall (right): An online market for military personnel.
Photo by Tony Overman
Learn how alumni apply military experience to leadership in nonprofits, industry, education, and more.
Veterans Day, celebrated on November 11 in the United States, is a reminder that the military, through its personnel and its philosophy, has long been a key presence at HBS. Leadership training at America’s service academies has influenced how leadership is taught at the School. HBS faculty, students, and alumni with military backgrounds have played important roles in contributing to the transformative nature of the HBS experience. With America at war on two fronts during the last decade, and with a steady stream of combat veterans attending the School (as documented in the March 2004 Bulletin), their impact has been especially pronounced in recent years.
Individually, students such as Donovan Campbell (MBA ’07), Rye Barcott (MBA ’09), and Nathaniel Fick (MBA ’08), who have documented their Iraq military service in bestselling books, have shared their leadership skills and experience both inside and outside the classroom, as have other HBS military veterans. Collectively, the Armed Forces Alumni Association continues to be one of the most active and visible student clubs on the HBS campus.
Many veterans have been inspired to continue serving their comrades in arms. One such individual is Matt Scherrer (MBA ’07), who as a Platoon leader in the 2nd Ranger Battalion was twice deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. While Matt was overseas, his father founded the Second Ranger Battalion Assistance Foundation, dedicated to assisting rangers and their families when their needs outstrip the Army’s abilities to meet them. Says Scherrer, who serves on the foundation’s board, “The Rangers are an elite special operations unit and unique in that they include privates and corporals in their ranks. But they don’t have the same salaries or support networks as other outfits and many are young guys with families facing all the same risks as the other special ops units.” The foundation is funded through donations, relies on volunteers, and has virtually no overhead.
Another vet, Gunnar Counselman (MBA ’05), a former Marine officer in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa, is the founder and CEO of Fidelis, an organization that assists service personnel with the military-to-civilian transition. Emphasizing education, Fidelis partners with universities and companies and offers custom coursework, mentoring, coaching, and career and job opportunities, delivered on a social platform.
HBS, for its part, through the federal government’s Yellow Ribbon Grant program, is annually providing $10,000 each to dozens of HBS student veterans, an amount matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program is also supported by alumni such as John French (MBA ’74), a former Marine pilot during the Vietnam conflict. French and his wife, Elaine, have established the French Family Yellow Ribbon Program Fund to assist HBS vets. (To learn more, contact Skip Nordhoff in External Relations at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 617-495-9974.)
On this Veterans Day 2011, the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our HBS veterans and their families remind us that these truly are qualities that can make a difference in the world.