As the nation honors military heroes on Veterans Day, AOL.com is giving veterans a chance to share their stories and experiences.
Ronald Steptoe is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. He is the Chairman and CEO of the Steptoe Group, LLC and an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He often presents on mental and behavioral health disorders and co-morbid physical conditions in the veteran and military communities. He's also a strong supporter of #DayForTheBrave.
#DayForTheBrave is the first national veteran-focused day of giving, a day to show U.S. troops and veterans appreciation and respect. Around 200 veteran organizations -- including the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO and the Fisher House -- will be working together to raise more than $1 million in just 24 hours for troops. You too can get involved here.
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AOL.com: Why did you join the U.S. military?
Ron Steptoe: I wanted to go to the nation's number one school for leadership. I wanted to be a senior leader in either the military, corporate America and my community. I was also recruited to play basketball at West Point. Thus, I was able to play Division 1 basketball and also attend one of the nation's most challenging and prestigious academic institutions. I knew going to West Point came with a commitment of 5 years Active and 3 years in the Inactive Ready Reserves. This commitment to the military provided me with the opportunity to utilize, leverage and expand upon what I learned at West Point.
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AOL.com: What does it mean to you to have served in the U.S. military?
Ron Steptoe: It is one of the highest honors I could have been privileged to have bestowed upon me as a young adult. The nation entrusted me with its greatest treasure, its sons and daughters. I have the opportunity to influence, develop and lead America's finest talent. Additionally the military also entrusted me with managing tens of millions of dollars of equipment by the age of 22.
AOL.com: What did you gain from serving in the military and what did you have to give up?
Ron Steptoe: I learned that I could handle a great deal of stress and perform at a very high level while ensuring the safety of the individuals I was placed in charge of. I have friendships that have lasted for the past 28 years. When I left the military, I initially had to give up being a part of a team that had tangible and real impact upon the security and safety of the nation and its people.
AOL.com: What do most people forget or overlook about the men and women serving in the military?
Ron Steptoe: Most people really overlook how selfless an individual has to be to subjugate themselves to a team and purpose where their life can constantly be at grave risk. This level of commitment to a team, task, purpose and mission for the benefit of others is extremely undervalued by many in the civilian community. The selflessness, loyalty and commitment are values and beliefs that are core ingredients which effectuate our nation's very freedom.
AOL.com: What are you doing today and how did your service help you?
Ron Steptoe: My military service provided me with the leadership experience, confidence and aptitude to be the co-founder and CEO of a national firm that provides subject matter expertise, consultation and market leadership in addressing the veteran and military community health and healthcare needs in the commercial and government sectors.
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More Veterans Day coverage from AOL.com:
3 Doors Down star gets candid about time in Navy
'Gotham' star J.W. Cortes gets candid about how the military changed his life
How Matt Zeller is helping translators who aid US troops