top of page

A Veterans Day Message From Our President

Due to the normal distractions of life, I haven’t had much time to think about my

military service until I was asked to write about what it means to be a veteran for

KCI’s newsletter. As I started to write this article, memories took me back to a

day in 1979 that found me laying in a cold, windswept, snowy combat ambush

position in the DMZ between South and North Korea. That day, I had a lot of

time to think about what led up to an incredibly young and inexperienced 21-

year-old freezing his tuchus off in that specific location at that specific time in my


I guess you could say the military was always where I

expected I would end up. My dad was a vet. His

brother was a vet. My two brothers are vets. So

military service is a tradition in my family. By differing

estimates, only 5% of all Americans since 1776 have

served in the nation’s military. The two greatest

numbers of Americans in the military were seen

during the Civil War and World War II (Civil War

numbers are skewed because both sides counted as

Americans). But these numbers don’t tell the whole

story. Many Americans who served in the military didn’t do so willingly. The

draft, which involuntarily selected individuals for service, existed until 1973

when the US military became an all-volunteer force. With this said, I am proud

that 12% of employees in our company are veterans and 6% are service-disabled

veterans. All KCI veterans voluntarily chose to be among the less than 5% of all

Americans to serve their country and their fellow citizens. They all volunteered

to join and be a part of something bigger than themselves.

A quote that has circulated over the years says, “A

veteran is someone who wrote a blank check made

payable to the United States of America for an

amount up to and including their life.” But it is not as

simple as that – I know that snowy frigid day in 1979

did not have me thinking that I could lose my life or

that I would willingly give it up for some altruistic

motive. In 1979 and on the day I retired 37 years

later, it was my job – a job I took pride in doing to the

best of my ability. I am taken aback when someone

tells me “Thank you for your service.” I appreciate it,

but I don’t feel I deserve it. It was my job, and I did it

well, but I’m still here at the check out line in Home

Depot getting my 10% vet’s appreciation discount when so many others I have

known and served with are no longer here. Call it survivor’s guilt or unwarranted

humility, but I still feel that I don’t deserve it. I still take the discount, but I wish

those who are gone were with us to enjoy that discount as well.

Veterans Day started as a day to reflect upon the

heroism of those who died in our country's service

and was originally called Armistice Day. It falls on

November 11 because that is the anniversary of the

signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

However, in 1954, the holiday was officially changed

to "Veterans Day" to account for all veterans in all


So, I close this missive with this thought - Veterans

Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served. For one day,

we stand united in respect for you, our veterans. Please join your KCI veterans as

we celebrate and honor all of America's veterans for their patriotism, love of

country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.


Duane Nathaniel

Honoring KCI's Veterans!

KCI Veteran: Duane Nathaniel

Branch of Military: United States Army

Years of Service: 37 years

KCI Veteran: Jamison McAtee

Branch of Military: United States Air Force

Years of Service: 8 years

KCI Veteran: Alicia Bermea

Branch of Military: United States Navy

Years of Service: 8 years

KCI Veteran: Jena Mayle

Branch of Military: WV Army National Guard

Years of Service: 8 years

KCI Veteran: Clint Boit

Branch of Military: United States Air Force

Years of Service: 13 years active duty, 8 years reserve duty


bottom of page