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In all the years since I was nearly drafted into the Army following college graduation, and instead went into an accelerated program to become an Army officer at legendary Fort Knox, Kentucky, I’ve never met or corresponded with any of the soldiers I served with, not attended any veteran’s event. But in October, 2014, a unique reunion is being planned — a gathering of surviving graduates of the Armor Officer’s Candidate School I attended there in 66-67. That school was only in operation there for four years during the Vietnam War. I plan to attend that reunion, both to hopefully meet a few of those I trained with, and to visit again the grounds of the old Armor School, where I trained for 10 months and 10 days through the heat of a Kentucky summer and a wild winter. My exploits there and through two years of active duty, including a brief stint in Vietnam, are the subject of my essay, “All That Glitters,” presented two years ago before Chicago Literary Club. The essay can be found at Search under “List of Members” then my name then the title.

I’m at the point in life where I get alumni publications and emails — and read them.

It’s interesting to see how some organizations view and treat their alumni. Of course, if they don’t need to raise money from them, like universities, that communication might be much more quixotic.

I’ve worked for several companies and public relations agencies in my career. One major company has had an off and on relationship with alumni. For some years they only viewed alumni as retirees, and on and off have supported a retiree organization. They’ve hosted a few events, small and large, sponsored a retiree website, and had a committee of current and former employees to plan and overview this. Right now, with more retirees than ever, including many helped off the ship through “rightsizing” programs, all is abandoned, even the website is gone. As for those alumni who have left the company short of retirement, they seem to be generally viewed as “the enemy” under the assumption they may have gone to work for the competition. As an old boss told me when I was hired years ago, “If you ever leave, don’t wait for the phone to ring.”

Another firm, a global PR agency, had an alumni website for several years, but abandoned it, probably through lack of interest both inside the firm and by those alumni, even though many could influence or become potential clients. Now that agency publishes an occasional letter with updates on the firm and a link to the founder’s blog, which is emailed to the old alumni list. New alumni can sign on if they wish.

Meanwhile, those colleges I’ve been associated with publish beautiful 4-color print magazines, and keep the emails and events flowing — they need and want our money.

Guess it’s just like life in general — those who still want something from us reach out, and those who are through with us — are through. I’m not bitter, just bemused.

February 2023

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