Bond of Brothers

I recently had the privilege of writing a feature article for Fire-Rescue Magazine outlining the importance of “Making the Citizen-Soldier-Firefighter Connection.”

What started out as a vision for a successful joint recruitment project has morphed into a passion to connect firefighters and soldiers of all stripes.

Based on the concept that we’re looking for the same people — and we are the same people, I created a joint recruitment project between our county’s volunteer fire service and the NY National Guard.

If you think about Guardsmen, Soldiers and every other appropriate title given to those who serve in all the branches of the US Military, they can be ideal candidates to recruit into the volunteer fire service. They already understand discipline, respect, teamwork and the chain-of-command — and they certainly get the whole “brotherhood” thing! As many have shared about this idea, “it’s a no-brainer!”

In return, we can offer them the camaraderie, adrenaline rush and sense of value and belonging that many returning veterans miss about active duty. The fire service, and especially the volunteer fire service, offers them the opportunity to continue their legacy of service and reintegrate into their communities unlike any other community organization.

I’m so passionate about this project that I’ve created a site titled: to demonstrate the benefits of joining forces and as a means of sharing the stories of those who serve both their country and their community. In doing so, I believe we have both an opportunity and an obligation to welcome these soldiers home.

I’m confident that if we commit to extending our “bond of brothers” to veterans and active military, the recognition, returns and rewards will benefit them as much as they will benefit us.

And while we’re talking about brotherhood, here’s my definition of brotherhood in the fire service. I think it applies well to our extended “bond of brothers” too.

“It doesn’t matter that we wear different patches on our left sleeve. What’s important is that we wear the same patch on our right sleeve. The red, white and blue one – the one with the stars and stripes on it.

That’s what brings us together and keeps us together. No one can ever take that away from us.

The fire service is what’s right about America.”
– Tiger Schmittendorf – February 25, 2005

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