After-Action Report: RVM #66 with Scott Brower

There’s a reality to military life that most of us have to face eventually, and it goes like this:

  • You sit down for a job interview with the Head of HR at the world’s largest baby carriage factory.
  • The HR guy—who has an Ivy League degree and VERY soft hands—says: Oh, you were in the military! What did you do there?
  • You say something like: I led a Marine infantry battalion. Our mission was to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, using a lethal combination of crew-served weapons, small arms, and good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat!

You aren’t likely to get that job. A key thesis over here at RINGKNOCKER is that this is more productive conversation when there’s a little trigger time on BOTH ends of the table.

Before you can sit for THAT interview, you often have a different problem to solve: how do you acquire the qualifications you need in order to do the job? That can mean some sort of an advanced degree… which means that your FIRST interview is either with a student loan officer or—if we have our way—with a guy like today’s guest speaker: retired Army Brigadier General Scott Brower (USMA ’89).

General Brower is a got his start in ADA (that’s Air Defense Artillery for you squids) before landing where he spent most of his 30 years in uniform: with the quiet professionals of Army Special Forces.

I don’t have to tell you guys this: maybe it’s winding down now, who knows, but we’ve been at war for a generation since 9/11, and much of that war has been a special operations kind of war. General Brower and his Green Berets fought that war from one end to the other.

In fact, General Brower has clocked a mind-boggling SIXTY-THREE MONTHS of combat operations, all of it in special operations. If you are counting, this is two months longer than a full term of World War Two service… assuming you had been in the fight continuously from from the attack on Pearl Harbor (7 Dec 1941) through the official end of combat operations (31 Dec 1946)! And he rarely discusses these numbers because he knows so many troops who have stood the watch for eighty months or more.


General Brower is now director of Vanderbilt University’s Bass Military Scholars Program, which provides scholarships to veterans seeking advanced degrees in Law, Nursing, Medicine, Business, and Education.

A program like that has a lot of goals, but the way I see it one of the big ones is to stack the deck. Because if the HR guy at that baby carriage factory is ALSO a knuckle-dragger, then you don’t HAVE to explain why your military experience in and out of combat qualifies you for the job.

General Brower introduced three of his Bass Scholars to the group. We met:

  • Joseph Behrendt (USMA ’14), an Army infantry officer who now seeks to make an impact in higher education through Vanderbilt’s M.Ed. program.
  • Megan Gemar (USMA ’16), an Army artillery officer working on her MBA with plans to enter the business consulting world.
  • Hermes Silva (USAFA), an Air Force officer who just welcomed his fourth child into the world and has plans to become a pediatric nurse.

General Brower was clear that Bass Scholars are a special breed, who excelled in military service and intend to make a powerful impact in their chosen fields. These young officers certainly demonstrated his case, and we look forward to seeing them again and hearing updates on their progress!

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