I joined the British Army the day after I was 16. My mother, Christine, watched me go to conflict at 18. In the intervening 37 years, I transitioned from son to soldier to business owner – now delivering services to soldiers around the world. I also am a father of two remarkable adult children. With a son and daughter both of military age, I remember that feeling of immortality I had at 18, which is in sharp contrast to what I saw and learned over the years – that life is fragile and tenuous.
Lucky enough to travel the world both as a Special Forces Communicator and as a contractor I interacted with people of diverse races and creeds, who often lived in harsh environments, where one experience was always consistent: all people want to do is earn some money, put food on the table and spend time with family and friends safely. Our soldiers try and give that to those less fortunate who through a pandemic, conflict, or disaster need our protection.
The defense industry that supports our troops provides a livelihood to over two percent of the nation’s total employment base and 20 percent of the nation’s manufacturing workforce. The Defense Industries Network (DIN) was founded to honor this ecosystem. It aims to stimulate job growth, support small businesses, grow GDP, further technical innovation, and promote apprenticeships and STEM education. Crucially the DIN seeks to give an identity, a sense of belonging, and a voice to the leadership within the Defense sector of Upstate New York.
Jennifer and I envision connecting the defense industry ecosystem in such a way that the associated regions rely on one another in new strategic ways, accelerate deal flow and optimize swiftly between one another and amplify collective capability.
In our laudable zeal to achieve regional success, we in the Defense Industry should never forget for whom, ultimately, we serve, and not to lose sight of those sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers that serve us as soldiers in those dangerous places, nor their families, also just like us, that wait at home for them to return safely.
Pro Milite… For Soldiers.