First Person: PMC Veterans Forge Family Ties

Gerry Byrne Arthur Zaczkiewic PMC Veterans
Courtesy Images

We all experience crossroads in life. I often reflect on two of mine that were clearly transformational. I’m a kid from the Bronx, N.Y. Grew up in the shadow of the Yankee Stadium. After eight years at Fordham, where I was led by a distinct group of Jesuit drill instructors, my next step was service as a Marine officer, timed perfectly to allow for a residency in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. Many lessons learned.

But getting there was one of those lessons and a crossroads. Particularly in Quantico when each morning, around 4, the less-than-tender voices of my Marine drill instructors hollered, “Gentlemen (perhaps it was another salutation!), another great day to be alive and in the Marine Corps!!” Did I ever doubt that? How could I? I could see in the eyes of these gentle Ph.Ds in leadership their belief that I was being discovered, transformed and molded into a better self! And, indeed, I was. A foundation of ethics, integrity and classic leadership principles were embedded into who I was to become. Then, and now. And, indeed, that’s why we have a PMC Veterans Affinity Group. Yes, I’m a Marine. But those who have served, in any service, are all part of that family. And their families are as well.

There are 19 million veterans in the U.S. and more than 1.5 million on active duty. The family multiplier is over four. So the “affinity” universe exceeds 25% of the total U.S. population of 330 million. And these are all special folks who have great pride in being part of our service community. Thanks to the enthusiasm and leadership of my PMC Affinity Group co-founder, the Fairchild Group’s Arthur Zaczkiewicz, an Army Gulf War veteran, we’ve created a special “affinity” membership focused on finding our “family’s” needs and creating opportunities where we can make a difference. I add, with PMC corporate’s enthusiastic and total support.

I referenced another “crossroad,” which actually fits right into my essay. In the 1980s I had the privilege of being an executive at Norman Lear’s Act III Communications. Mr. Lear was in the Army from 1942-1945 as a B-17 gunner and flew 52 combat missions. We had lunch one day when I asked him what was, for me, a very real and profound question: Where did he find the time, beyond his flourishing professional life, to do all the things that were making an important difference in society? Norman’s answer was quick and brilliantly simple. “Gerry, life is not a rehearsal.”
The PMC Veterans Affinity Group carries that mantra. Our goal is to be a positive resource to our community and to make a difference wherever we can.

Gerry Byrne is vice chairman, PMC, and co-founder, the PMC Veterans Affinity Group.