“Many of us missed the camaraderie we found in the military, but we found it again when we stood together at Standing Rock.”
“Know that to be a Leader and a Chief, you must be a servant of the least of your people.”
The Veteran Service Corps Way
By J. P. Hutson, January 2020
Veteran Service Corps was formed by a group of the veterans who answered the call of Native American Veterans to stand with them at Standing Rock in December 2016 to oppose violent actions taken by law enforcement and an illegal corporate security firm. The event marked the largest gathering of Veterans since the Bonus Army of 1932 and was covered by every major news outlet.
The violence against Water Protectors and protesters stopped immediately upon the arrival of more Veterans on Sunday morning. President Obama pulled the pipeline permits on Sunday afternoon. A blizzard hit just after more than 10,000 veterans showed up in one of the most remote landscapes in the lower 48 states. The blizzard wreaked havoc on many of the veterans and water protectors but spirits remained high.
People came together in “good ways” that prevented disaster and enabled empathy, respect, and kindness in service to one another. We did so by removing our egos in favor of function to ensure the survival of everyone there. We did not realize this until we took the time to see it: the veterans had stood in a circle without ego, focused on the functions necessary to ensure survival, and shared the responsibility of completing. In short, we successfully had used the S-Shop model without a rank structure, and we did so by following the lead of Native Veterans by standing in a circle as equals.
The lessons from the great wars of the 20th century, as horrific as they were, produced a methodology that allows for a multitude of nations with different languages, ethnicities, races, customs, military traditions, religions, rivalries, and histories, often with competing interests, to work together towards common goals; it is called the Continental Staff System aka the S-Shop Model. We used this model to defeat fascist nationalism and authoritarian communism in the last century. We still use this model militaristically as well as for humanitarian relief and disaster/incident management; it is highly effective, intuitive, and adaptable. However, the system was designed to function within strict command structures that are linear in relation to authority.
Veteran Service Corps demilitarized the S-Shop model and adapted it to reflect the lessons of standing rock and the Seven Circles Model was created. There are seven basic functions within the model:
2. Research and Analysis
4. Supply and Logistics
5. Planning and Development
Notice that leadership is designated with a zero. This is due to the recognition that leadership is a necessary function that is as important as each of the other six functions; however, it is not more important that any of the other functions. The leadership function is designated as a zero because of the lessons learned from Standing Rock; a great leader is but a servant of the people and humility is a virtue. The leadership function provides the support necessary for the circle to achieve its mission.
The model works. Veteran Service Corps used the Seven Circles Model to stand up the only camp at Standing Rock that was not forcibly evicted, Four Bands, on the site of the actual rocks that lend their names to Standing Rock. The model was then used to stand up a network of safe-houses, community kitchens, food pantries, an animal rescue, homeless shelters, and transitional housing. The model was adapted to trace disinformation and propaganda from hostile foreign countries and aggressive corporations. Then the model was adapted to address atrocities and human rights violations at the U.S.-Mexico border. The model was adapted to identify misinformation penetration into the American extreme left and right media silos. The model was used to respond to more than two dozen natural disasters in the last three years. Perhaps most significantly, the model allowed for the formation and functioning of the Overland Railroad, a collaborative nationwide effort to support refugees, migrants, and immigrants as they make their way through the American bus system. Again, the model works.
How can you help? Choose to do so. Start thinking about the circle that helps get you through life. You have people or personal methodologies that fill each of the functions; that is your circle. Now, bring your circle together to address a problem by creating a vacuum around an issue. Focus on the functions necessary to address the issue by creating a vacuum to be filled with a solution; concentration on functions allow for solutions to be recognized and defined without ego getting in the way. Once the solutions are defined, each participant in the circle engages their own circle and extended function-circles to the extant necessary for success. Do it face-to-face. Online is OK but face-to-face is most effective, plus a paper notebook is impossible to hack.
You are the key to our future. You and your circle hold solutions to problems we face as a nation and as a people. Those solutions may be as small as shoveling out a driveway, cleaning up a stream, or building wheelchair ramps. Your solutions may involve organizing a vigil, protest, or service project or to provide support to those who are exercising their constitutional and human rights. The overall goal is to change the way America does business by empowering the us in US one circle at a time. When we do so, we will finally realize the ideals of “We the People” and a “more perfect union.”
Please consider supporting our continuing efforts to empower Veterans across all political spectrums by making a recurring donation and/or joining our community yourself as a volunteer!