27 May 2013

Memorial Day 2013: The Courage of Risk Decisions...

Walking through Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend 2013 is a stark reminder of the Operational Risk Management challenges we have faced this past decade.  One example can be found in the current budget at the Pentagon to defeat the IED.

Billions of dollars are devoted to the strategies and tactics to keep U.S. "boots on the ground" on foreign lands from becoming KIA, an amputee or another invisible wound such as Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Regardless of the dollars devoted, many grave markers in Section 60 have birth dates in the 1980's and 1990's.  Standing there yesterday, a tear rolled down a cheek and the wind quickly blew it away...
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May.[1] Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.[2] Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service[3].
If you are in the military we will thank you for your courage of service on Veterans Day, as we have before.  This day however, is for those in the armed forces who have died while serving.  Simultaneously, we must thank all of the other "Operational Risk Management" subject matter experts.  The "Quiet Professionals" who operate everyday in the shadows.  We hope that their decisions will continue to be the right ones.  They live each day with the burden of managing risk decisions, that could send another U.S. soldier on their way to Section 60.

This Memorial Day and each day after, an average of 22 veterans will take their own lives.  Here in their own home town, in their own country.

The risks that each of us take in our chosen careers and life decisions, is a mosaic of future events that can be managed.  The likelihood and impact of those risks can be assessed and decisions can be made.  What risks will be mitigated, accepted or avoided all together?  It is up to you.  These decisions will determine your risk appetite and your willingness for the consequences of your choice.

On our July 4th birthday, we will all remember why we celebrate Memorial Day in the United States.  It is worth the sacrifice, the loss and the tears.  God bless our heroes and this great nation!

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