The impetus for writing this article is to address the stigmas that I observed while serving as an enlisted soldier in the Army that I now deem as myopic. Moreover, it is a letter that addresses the evolution of my disposition as I have progressed throughout my collegiate career. When I left the military, I was the self-proclaimed sniper that could tackle anything. But what I wish I knew was that there is a significant added value to seeking consultation in every dimension of your life. Suppose you are the warrior that does not miss. In that case, you already know everything I have to say (you should probably read this). Still, if you have read this far, you are already well on your way to seeking consultation and should drive on just a bit further.
The following article briefly touches upon three areas of my life in which I have received a significant added value from seeking consultation. By no means is this list exhaustive, and I encourage those who read this to apply what I have learned to their own lives (let me make the mistakes for you). Furthermore, if you have questions, reach out to me—because I would love to help!
One of the most important goals of higher education is increasing one’s aptitude towards understanding and critically engaging with complex ideas. The ideal college professor is a guide that aids one in learning the core concepts and specifics of their respective field. Taking my two previous points into consideration, seeking the consultation of a professor outside of regular class hours not only allows you to further critically engage with the complex concepts of their respective class more directly and intimately, but ultimately leads to an increase in your understanding. From a strictly outcome-based perspective, anytime I have attended office hours before writing a paper or taking an examination, I have performed noticeably better. The added value of consulting a professor—an expert in their respective field—will amplify your understanding of their course scope and will additionally help teach you how to learn more effectively.
One of the most encouraging aspects of being a veteran is witnessing and experiencing the willingness to help other veterans. As I began the transition from academics into the professional space, I was curious about several different fields. To learn more about each field, I reached out to veterans on LinkedIn who worked at firms I was interested in. The vast majority of the people I reached out to were generously willing to answer my questions and tell me their personal stories. As I progressed towards applying for internships, and ultimately jobs, the firms of the veterans that I had spoken to were the ones that were offering me interviews and ultimately offers. The added value of seeking the consultation of other veterans provided me with the insight to make more informed decisions about what career field was best for me and, most importantly, why. It afforded me the knowledge to consider firm values, culture, and the desirable work-life balance that I so sought. It is safe to say, had I not sought the consultation of others, I would have made a less-informed decision.
Lastly, most importantly, is the stigma that only someone with ‘issues’ focuses on their mental well-being. I have pleasantly come to discover that I not only perform to a higher degree in all facets of my life when I pay attention to what my mind and body are trying to relay to me, but I am simply happier. Life is not a ruck-march; you do not, and should not ignore pain and discomfort, for it is your mind and body telling you something. I have found that listening to these messages points you in the right direction.
Furthermore, and on a more somber note, many of us have witnessed the tragedies of war in some form or another. Passively trying to ignore these tragedies does not make them go away. It takes an active approach. In this regard, seeking professional consultation has added value to my life by helping me embody my fallen brothers’ spirit, move on, and ultimately come to peace. I feel blessed to say that I feel their support in my endeavors when I need it most and feel equally fortunate that I have uncovered truths otherwise unturned about myself through consultation. In summary, a true benefit of seeking consultation is that you are afforded a second opinion, an alternate perspective, or a vantage point from overwatch. The real added value is that this is something that you can consider in your decision-making process or alternatively do not have to. The information is yours to do with as you best see fit. And, if you leave with only one take-away, know that as a veteran (or active-duty service member), the options out there for consultation are near limitless.