Free Ain’t Free

Merriam Webster defines “value free” as “making or having no value judgments, value-free distinctions, or value-free instruction.” It centers on a particular mindset that eliminates having a moral plotline for a particular judgment, distinction or instructional method. But veterans often have a different understanding of the term “value free.” The term “free” often diminishes their perceived value of a particular service, offering, or instruction.

Some service members invest a lot of their time attending certification classes, multiple degree programs, signing up for webinars, or registering for employer-sponsored FREE events and a large amount don’t show up.

Is it because its free? Is it because you believe its NOT valuable or worth your time? So why register if you know you won’t attend. Don’t get me wrong I understand emergencies and things come up at the last minute, that’s understandable.

There are alot of people, organizations, schools that throw everything at you with the cost of FREE including the kitchen sink in an effort to get some of those education benefits. If it makes sense to you and after doing a cost benefit analysis you agree that it adds value to you then go for it.

Just know not showing up is contradictory to military training, but somewhere in the transition from military life to civilian life, they forgot this valuable life lesson, “thatnyou show up to go up.”

Attendance was a mandatory protocol in military life. Other members of your team, unit depended on you. Especially if a servicemember desired to be promoted and on orders to attend a leadership development course, you would just not show up would you?. Remember this protocol also rings true in civilian life, potential employers and veteran service providers invest time, money and their expertise in providing opportunities for service members. It’s their tangible way of saying, “Thank You for Your Service.”

Just a reminder “Free” isn’t free when it costs somebody something. There is an opportunity cost to the servicemember. When something is complimentary, it should be perceived as a gift. Otherwise, it may disappear and not be available for those service members who really need the help. Frankly, because something is “free,” it should not be devalued but appreciated.

Perhaps it would be better received if a veteran had to leave a small deposit to secure a spot for a free event and be refunded when they attended instead of just signing up for it and not attending.

Think about this you have to leave a credit card to make a hotel reservation, this is how they get your commitment to show-up. If you don’t show up your card would be charged for the room because you have taken that room off the market preventing the hotel from renting that room out.

There is a store that I shop at called Aldi’s where if you want to use one of their shopping carts you have to put a quarter in the slot to release the cart. The funny thing is you don’t see carts all over the parking lot in fact you see all the carts nicely lined up. Why is this? In order to get your quarter back you have to connect the carts neatly together and plug a device into the coin receptor of the cart you connect with so that your coin is released and returned back to you. They have this same process at the airport. Why does this work? When you pay for something, you pay attention.

The moral of this story is simply this, you are a worthy investment to veteran friendly employers and service providers. Don’t disappoint them by not investing in yourself. If you make a commitment, follow through. If not for you, then for the service member who will follow you. They may really need the helping hand up!

Has this happen to you?

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