Last week, I attended the golden anniversary conference of the Defense Credit Union Council. It was quite a celebration and it gave me the opportunity to once again be among the elite within our movement, many of whom I’ve come to know through an annual holiday campaign I manage for military families and the deployed, Operation Best Wishes.
Arty Arteaga, DCUC President & CEO and his staff organized quite a gala to mark the occasion, featuring a roster of first class military, Department of Defense and credit union dignitaries that took the podium to offer commentary, insights and information in ways that motivated and inspired me and I’m sure, many others in attendance.
Most moving of all was hearing Pete Lemon, a Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, recount his personal story of that one unforgettable night in Viet Nam, when as a Sergeant in the US Army, he and his team faced the fight of their lives. I wish you could have been with me at the conference to hear and gratefully applaud Mr. Lemon for his brave and inspiring valor!
Mr. Lemon’s story served to reinforce for me a point that was made earlier in the conference by the keynote speaker, Mr. Ernest Gregory, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army. Mr. Gregory caught my ear when he said members of the military don’t fight to preserve our freedom. He quickly pointed out, “They fight for one another.” They do so to prevail, and in so doing, they defend and preserve our freedom.
Today, Mr. Lemon proudly wears his Congressional Medal of Honor and speaks to thousands across America as his way to honor his buddies—those for whom he fought—those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country during that hellacious attack on their encampment back in Viet Nam. Fighting for one another creates an indelible bond that withstands the test of time.
As you and your credit union develop your strategic plans for 2014, here’s a quick exercise designed to focus and sharpen an understanding of your mission and vision. Host a discussion where participants can share their views and ideas on ways to strengthen their ability to be united in identity, in mission and in their common bond.
Consider using this exercise to energize your executive staff, board and team with a renewed sense of purpose so you and your credit union can, as the US Army used to say, “Be all you can be.”
The US military has different branches of service yet all view themselves as one, united as Americans who serve our country.
- American credit unions all differ in a variety of ways yet all are the same. What is it that makes us alike; that drives our commonality; that nourishes our unity? What is it among our differences that fosters division, impedes our strength and works against our unity? How can we mitigate it?
Members of the Defense Credit Union Council have a unifying tagline, “Serving those who serve our country.” Although members are serving different branches of the military, they remain united in singularity of purpose and mission.
- America’s credit unions serve all people, from special employee segments to communities; from the underserved to the affluent of our land. We’re called to be member-centric yet we face a variety of forces challenging our ability to remain faithful to the reasons we were originally formed. What do you claim as your strength in keeping your team united in mission? Is it fully understood, embraced and actualized by everyone on your team?
A significant percentage of the leadership of defense credit unions is retired military. They have truly walked in the shoes of their members. They know and understand the challenges they face on the battlefield and on the home front as well. They’ve fought for one another, just as today’s military fight for one another. Such shared experiences create bonds that drive their every-waking moment to provide and care for their members.
- Do you, your leadership, your board, and your team continue to walk in the shoes of your members?
- Do you recognize other credit unions as cooperative partners to whom you also have a responsibility; and if so, how is that cooperation manifested? Or, have you given up on the cooperative bond that’s part of a credit union’s DNA, opting instead to see all others as the competition?
In his keynote speech during the conference, Mr. Gregory also challenged everyone with this admonition.
“Just as members of the military fight for one another to prevail and in so doing, defend and preserve our freedom, you, too, as credit unions, must fight for one another (through campaigns such as CUNA’s Don’t Tax My Credit Union and Unite for Good) so that credit unions (our distinct financial cooperative business model) can prevail for many generations yet to come.”
Fight for one another and be all you can be!