Archive for the ‘Veterans Day’ Category

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Why Unleashing Veterans’ Entrepreneurial and Leadership Skills in Global Commerce Helps Strengthen America’s Economic and National Security

November 9, 2018

Murat Muftari is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service and founder of the Vets Go Global initiative and a former U.S. Special Forces soldier.

On Veterans Day, November 11, 2018, let us take a moment to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifice and willingness to serve for the common good of a grateful nation. For many veterans, their service continues well beyond the battlefield and into the commercial and private sector where transitioning veterans continue to evolve their mission from military boots to executive suits. Whether we look at veteran-owned or veteran-led businesses, it comes as no surprise that veterans thrive as leaders. Their business leadership skills are particularly well suited for international business, where their understanding of the geopolitical environment and how economic factors play a prominent role in U.S. national security allows them to help unleash American ingenuity and expand economic influence around the world.american flag

This economic influence helps provide economic security, defined as the ability to protect or advance U.S. economic interests in the face of events, developments, or actions that may threaten or block these interests. And this economic security translates to protecting U.S. national security. That is why the International Trade Administration and the Vets Go Global initiative works to better empower veteran-owned and veteran-led businesses to continue their mission of protecting our nation, from the frontlines of war to the frontlines of international commercial activity. The economic well-being of the United States depends on the smooth conduct of national and international commerce, so the U.S. can continue to play a prominent role in shaping the international economic environment.

There are a multitude of tools and resources that the International Trade Administration provides to assist American businesses, all a form of economic means to help achieve national security ends. These tools include offering U.S. Commercial Service export promotion services to help increase American exports and the relative size of the U.S. economy; direct U.S. government support of U.S. companies competing for foreign government contracts through programs like the International Trade Administration’s Advocacy Center; increasing foreign investment in the United States through programs like SelectUSA; maintaining access to foreign markets and reducing trade barriers through U.S. Commercial Service commercial diplomacy efforts; and promoting market-oriented economic policies and free and fair trade agreements that help U.S. companies to compete and win in international markets. Continuing to build an American economy that is more dynamic and more robust than economies elsewhere cannot be taken for granted. That is why we must continue to support veteran businesses and all U.S. businesses with the resources and tools they need to survive and thrive in international markets.

The Vets Go Global initiative will continue to collaborate with private and public organizations that offer resources to veterans by presenting additional avenues of economic opportunity to veteran-owned and veteran-led businesses and helping them survive and thrive in global markets.

I call on the veteran-owned and veteran-led business community to continue to rise to the occasion when opportunity knocks and seek to grow your business in international markets. To get started, and learn more about existing export opportunities and resources, contact the Vets Go Global team at vets@trade.gov or your nearest Export Assistance Center.

Again, I would like to personally thank the brave Americans who have served – as well as their families – and those who continue to serve our country as members of the Armed Forces.

 

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Spotlight on Commerce: Chris Higginbotham, Deputy Director of Outreach, SelectUSA

November 9, 2017

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees in honor of Veteran’s Day.

When Congress first declared November 11th as a holiday that ultimately became Veterans Day,  it said the day should be marked with “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”

U.S. Army Segeant Chris Higginbotham standing with comrades in Iraq in 2004.

U.S. Army Sergeant Chris Higginbotham in Iraq in 2004.

I am fortunate that in my two careers — one in the U.S. Army and one in the U.S. Department of Commerce — it was my mission to do just that.

I began my career in the U.S. Army and had the best job in the service; that’s no exaggeration. For six years, I followed Army units around Europe, Southwest Asia and the great Commonwealth of Kentucky as a photographer and videographer. I did my best to tell soldiers’ stories, and to help people in the United States and abroad understand the important missions my colleagues took on every day.

I regularly think back to some of the work we did, like when I joined the airborne troops of 5th Quartermaster Company to photograph one of their jumps, only to learn after takeoff that the C-130 pilot also needed to practice “evasive maneuvers,” which did not make for the smoothest ride. That is the only day I have ever been envious of people who were jumping out of an aircraft.

My unit participated in the ceremony recognizing the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and I had the honor of interviewing veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944. There was a man who I swear could still beat me in a race who recounted his feelings about the war stating, “Oh, it didn’t bother me at all.” That was tough to believe, but you don’t often question someone who’s been through something like that and lived to tell about it.

And I remember being inside a trailer on Camp Victory in Ballad, Iraq, recording video messages for home from the deployed members of 95th Military Police Battalion. There was one soldier whose message would be the first time his newborn son would ever hear his father’s voice or see his face. The soldier kept reaching out to the camera as if by touching it, he would be touching his baby. Giving that tape to those Soldiers’ families back home might have been the most meaningful work I ever did.

Working now in the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is something I see as a continuation of my service in the military. Just like in the Army, my job is to tell the stories of the work my colleagues do through assisting U.S. exporters and attracting foreign direct investment. Their work supports millions of American jobs, and it’s something in which we all take a great amount of pride.

And this work in international trade and business is right at the core of promoting mutual understanding and good will between nations — it’s an everyday perpetuation of what Congress asked Americans to do every November 11th. One recent example of this was at the Trade Winds Business Forum and Trade Mission in Bucharest. I heard U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm and Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose repeatedly reference trade as a key pillar in U.S. relations with Southeast Europe. I witnessed first-hand the ability of our government to connect U.S. companies and organizations to promising business opportunities. I am proud to be part of a team of professionals who work tirelessly every day to help U.S. business compete at home and abroad.

On Veterans Day and every day, I salute all of the great men and women who are serving or who have served in our armed forces, and I give thanks to all who have fought to perpetuate peace and good will around the world.