As November begins, we look ahead to many holiday celebrations and one very important remembrance. Nov. 11 is Veterans Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in many other countries.

In July, Valerie King profiled Vietnam veteran and land surveyor Russell Anthony Novotony Jr., PLS. His story and his service is not unique among land surveyors. Many in the profession got their start as a result of their military experience. Others who have entered the profession served in other capacities before returning to civilian life and entering or continuing their surveying career.

As conflicts wind down, there are typically efforts put into helping veterans with their transition. Those efforts taper off over time, and that’s a good reason to remember Veterans Day. It is not just about the fallen but also about those who served.

When I was discharged and entered the university, there was a Veterans Affairs office staffed by at least two full-time counselors to help with registration and any other issues returning veterans may have had. By the time I graduated, there was one person handling veterans’ queries part time, and finding answers wasn’t easy.

Entering the workforce required skills at translating military training and experience into civilian terms. A fresh degree put you in competition with every other newly graduated job seeker, and employers rarely gave military experience a second look.

Much has changed in recent times, but I suspect this has not. The one big change has been seeing people walk up to a person in uniform and thank them for their service.

Here’s an opportunity to thank another soldier. In August, Michael J. Foster of Florida State College in Jacksonville, Fla., contacted POB to ask for assistance in identifying an unknown soldier who died in an Indian attack on a survey crew in Iowa in 1849. He noted that only Fort Atkinson existed at the time, and it was days away from the location of the grave. Foster is himself a veteran, serving 22 years, so his passion for this project is strong.

The other opportunity is to welcome veterans into the profession. That’s a request that hardly needs to be voiced to land surveyors. There are plenty of veterans already in the ranks of land surveying and there are strong historical ties between the military and the profession, as the Iowa example shows.

One of the issues the profession faces when it comes to hiring veterans — and it is not alone here — is the time it takes to reach full status as a licensed surveyor. Other professions are seeking recognition for related military experience as equivalent to professional experience. With licensing in this profession occurring at the state level, that is a monumental task. One thing we can all do as Veterans Day/Remembrance Day approaches is to remind the members of those state boards that govern the licensing of land surveyors that veterans are an asset to the profession and we should do all that we can to encourage them to bring their skills and experience to the profession. Even small gestures are encouraging, like saying “Thank you.” 

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