“If the army wanted you to have a wife, they would issue you one,” an old joke Don Lanman of First State Bank shared with me while explaining the ups and downs of being in the military.
Lanman, Senior Vice President, Marketing Director at First State Bank of the Florida Keys, said his family has been serving in the armed forces since 1776 to be exact. This is even before our nation’s first president was elected! Starting with a very great-grandfather serving in the Revolutionary War to his Stepson now serving in Iraq.
In 1966, fresh out of high school, Don enlisted in the United States Army. Within a year, he had attended Leadership School, Officer Candidate School and had graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant. At the age of 19, he had learned to become a mentor and a leader, was responsible for millions of dollars of equipment, and was training others for combat.
“I was counseling people through all types of issues and could enhance my skills to help people through family to financial problems,” he said proudly.
He attests the military to be a marvelous training venue, and as a young person he was learning responsibility, discipline, focus, and service.
“When considering enlisting, joining the military is one of the best opportunities a young person may get. The benefits are remarkable. You really, really can succeed. If you put the effort in, it will pay back huge dividends. Of course, you can go in and do nothing, but when you go in and work, you have the experience. This makes you very valuable to an employer.”
While active, Donald spent time in Germany, France and a place called the Sudetenland (the western regions of Czechoslovakia). His fondest moments were the times he spent helping school children and locals with community projects.
“The largest misconception of the military is that it is filled with ‘unthinking drones.’ When the truth is, it is filled with highly motivated, loyal individuals who have a job that doesn’t pay well and that keeps them away from their families. They are simply trying to protect our nation with honor.”
Don noted the difference in patriotism today, from serving in a time of protesting demonstrations and being spit on, to a time where no matter what war you support, Americans support their troops.
“They are doing what they are told and protecting our way of life”.
In 1969, three and a half years after Don enlisted; he finished as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army.
Immediately after, Don attended college at the University of Nevada where he graduated with a BA in Journalism, including postgraduate MBA studies at Saint Mary’s College in California. He is a published author in Dive Expeditions, where he contributed vignettes on his dives in areas such as Hong Kong and the Truk Lagoon. Don is a recognized industry expert in the areas of strategic marketing communications, targeted advertising and power public relations. His philanthropic contributions are too vast to list in their entirety.
Founded in 2004, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, (www.forgottensoldiers.com) is one very close to his heart. As he sits on the Board of Directors, this Non-for-Profit sends soldiers a week care package and letters from civilians thanking them for their service and letting them know “they are not forgotten,” this Veteran’s Day, or any other day of the year.