November 13, 2019
“I would like to start off by saying how proud I am of our country for taking time to acknowledge, respect, and honor our nation’s service members. Veteran appreciation is becoming more and more common, and for that I am grateful. Veterans Day serves as a yearly reminder to recognize those who have made the ultimate sacrifice—we should all take pause to thank those who have and continue to serve and their families.” – Steve Schliesman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Military and Veterans Health
We sat down with Steve Schliesman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Military and Veterans Health and former Army Acquisition Corps, Lieutenant Colonel, to talk Veterans Day—what it means to him and how he commemorates. Schliesman shares insight to his personal experience as a Veteran and how Cognosante recognizes the value of these remarkable men and women.
1. How do you commemorate Veterans Day?
I generally spend the day with close family and friends – many of who are Veterans themselves. It’s a time to give thanks to friends and family who, while not direct veterans, also made their own personal sacrifices supporting us while we were in the military–being there with and for us over long deployments; unknown where a bouts; frequent moves; long hours; missed holidays and family events; and in extreme circumstances, enduring the loss of loved ones.
2. Can you elaborate on a valuable skill you learned in the military?
The military is all about teamwork—from service beginnings as a military unit to platoon, squad, and team level assignments, teamwork has remained constant throughout my entire military career, and translated to my civilian life. Equally important, is diversity. At first glance, many may think the military is “all the same” – but the reality is, nowhere else will you see more diverse people and skills working in perfect harmony and operating as one. Conflict resolution and acceptance of differences in perspective or opinion are usually rooted in trust. Once trust is gained and bonds are created, service members work well together, similarly to what I have seen happen in the civilian workforce. I recognize the value of working in diverse teams and make it a point to build teams that work well with one another.
3. How has the military impacted your life?
The military has allowed me so many opportunities—from humble beginnings in the Midwest, with limited resources and educational opportunity to vast educational and experiential opportunities afforded through the military. I have learned new technical and personal skills beyond imagination. My military and professional careers, have allowed me to learn and grow through ever increasing responsibilities, ultimately positioning and preparing me for even larger government and civilian positions.
4. Do you recall the day your service ended? What was your next step?
My military transition is probably less imaginative than most. I was very fortunate to retire and then return the next day to the same job, only wearing a different uniform – a civilian suit. Due to a bit of luck and good timing, my assignment was converted to a civilian position. I was afforded the opportunity to “continue to serve” and it was a dream come true.
5. What advice do you have for Veterans transitioning into civilian life?
Start your transition planning early. This is a major life event and not one you should go into haphazardly. Seek out friends and mentors that have already transitioned and learn from them—their successes and failures. Take advantage of every and all transition assistance made available to you. Just like every military exercise you ever participated in, prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. And finally, don’t forget your family. This is a major transition for them as well so involve them in the process and enjoy success, together.
6. How does Cognosante recognize the value former military service members bring to the table?
Cognosante and the military share many commonalities. Cognosante performs as a single unit; has a clear mission and vision; has a workforce that is passionate and committed to its cause; appreciates teamwork while equally benefiting from diversity; and serves a cause greater than itself. I am extremely proud of our veteran efforts and programs—they begin with our focused hiring process; are shown in the veteran employment commitments we have made and honor in our programs; and are reflected in our employee benefits. Cognosante recognizes the values engrained through military service and maintains the same expectation in all employees – those of duty, honor, commitment, integrity, and the list goes on.