top of page
Colonel Dana G. Richard, USAF, Retired

This page has two main purposes. One is to provide you context for understanding me better to help you form a (hopefully positive) opinion of me as a prospective Board Member. I entered the United States Air Force Academy on June 26, 1978, graduated on June 2, 1982, with a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Regular US Air Force, and then served 30 years in the Regular and Reserve US Air Force, retiring on June 1, 2012, as a full colonel The photo was taken when I was promoted in 2006, I look a little different now. That means most of my adult life was associated with the military and it shaped me and to a very great extent made me what I am today.

My second purpose, to me an even more important one, is to help bridge the widening gap in understanding between military veterans and civilians. There was a time when most people had a personal connection to the military because they, a close relative, or a friend had served. This is no longer the case and the lack of connection leads to a lack of understanding. I want to help us connect and understand each other better


My intent here is to, hopefully, dispel some myths and disinformation you may have been exposed to so you can better understand who I am and what I bring to the board. However, this is an extremely challenging task I am undertaking, and I am sure I won’t do it justice, so I invite your questions. Let us begin by delving into why this task is so difficult.

First, since Toastmasters is a global organization which means your experience will be with the military as you have experienced it, if you have experienced it, within your country. The role of military within society, who belongs to it, whether the force is conscripted or all volunteer, the education and training of its personnel, how and where it is used, and who controls it significantly varies across the world. For instance, in some countries service is compulsory for all citizens; in others service may not be compulsory for all, but the ranks will be filled through conscription; and in others, such as the US, the military service is entirely voluntary. If your perception of a military officer is based on your experience in any country other than the US, then chances are very, very, good that my experience and perception is significantly, even dramatically, different from that. Which also means that what I bring to the Board is different from what you might expect.

Second, within most countries, the military, especially a professional military, is a unique sub-culture within the larger culture. Even within the US, multiple studies suggest that 99% of the population has not served in the military. Allowing, very loosely, for family members of military members, this means that at least nine out of ten have had little to no experience with the military and it essentially exists as its own culture outside of their realm of experience. This disconnect is amplified by the military having its own language, although a lingo that is bewildering to outsiders is not unique to the military, we even have one in Toastmasters! (Here’s a couple of interesting articles on commonly used English words and phrases with military origins: and 34 Military Terms and Their Meanings | Stacker,  

Third, even within a single country's military, there can be significant differences between different services (land, air, sea, space) and within service there are sub-cultures within branches and occupations. I am an Air Force veteran, which means my training and culture were significantly different than an Army or Navy veteran. I was a career intelligence officer (that is what the silver badge on my uniform signifies) so my Air Force experience was significantly different from that of a pilot or a maintenance officer. Within all the services, special forces personnel have their own sub-culture as do medical personnel and lawyers. And so on.

Fourth, I was a commissioned officer, so my experience was significantly different from an enlisted person’s. Also, since only 18% of the US military are commissioned officers (click here for demographics information), you are far more likely to encounter a current or former enlisted member than an officer, and since colonels make up less than 1% of the US military, you are even less likely to have encountered one of my peers. But when you do, we almost all have at least a Masters Degree, have had at least two years of additional graduate-level professional military education (which yes, does cover military science since we actually do need to be able to conduct military operations, but in the Air Force devotes at least as much instruction time to leadership and management), cumulatively a few more years of additional technical and leadership training, and have over 20 years of experience at increasing levels of responsibility. (Click here to learn more)


And fifth, many people's perception of military service is based on media depictions, outdated information, and stereotypes. That is not unique to the military of course, many groups experience this, perhaps a group you belong to. On this note I will say that if your perception of the military is based on how you have seen it depicted in movies, that depiction is probably inaccurate (allowing for the fact that some movies and television programs do a pretty good job, but most don't). Again, this is not unique to the military, perhaps you belong to a profession that you have cause to cringe every time a new movie comes out depicting it. If you have ever had that experience, then you will understand how we feel. Also, unfortunately, when US military veterans appear as the subjects of news stories, it seems to frequently be under less than flattering circumstances. Here are some articles on military stereotypes you might find interesting, or at least enlightening:


All that said, US military members, regardless of what service they belong to or what rank they hold, gain skills that are valuable to civilian organizations, Toastmasters included. In fact,, a worldwide employment website, has identified many benefits to employers of hiring veterans (a veteran is anybody who has served in the military):

  • Goal driven

  • Trained leaders

  • Responsible

  • Decisive

  • Analytical

  • Autonomous

  • Dedicated

  • Focused

  • Organizationally minded

  • Education driven

  • Technologically savvy

  • Broad worldview

  • Compliant

  • Resilient

  • Trainable

  • Collaborative

  • Stress management

  • Consistent


This is a civilian site identifying the qualities that military veterans bring with them to employers--and to Toastmasters!

Do military members have a specific type of personality that may make them hard for civilians to work with? The answer is a matter of perception. Military personnel tend to have ISTJ personality type (Myers-Briggs, per a search), and military officer is one of six careers that recommends for people with the ISTJ personality. The other six are business analyst, supply chain manager, certified public accountant, dentist, bank teller, and inspector. As with all personality types, ISTJ’s have strengths and corresponding weaknesses, military personnel are no different than anyone else in this regard. Here are the strengths:

  • Decisive

  • Detail-oriented

  • Honest

  • Logical

  • Objective

  • Organized

  • Persistent

  • Practical

  • Productive

  • Rational

  • Reliable

  • Responsible

And here are some weaknesses we ISTJ’s must guard against, we tend to be:

  • Conventional

  • Cautious

  • Hesitant to take risks

  • Stubborn

  • Blunt

  • Insensitive


ISTJ’s do not tend to perform well as artists, bartenders, event coordinators, journalists, or psychologists. That means that if your personality is suited to one of those professions, you and a military member will have some challenges communicating.

Additionally, Bret A. Moore, Psy. D, ABPP, in an article published in Psychology Today, shares the following:

“Another shared trait of service members, in my experience, is directness. During the first days of recruit training, military leaders teach the new troop how to communicate quickly, clearly, and without self-doubt or ambiguity.

For those not familiar with this type of communication, the service member may be viewed as abrasive, impatient, or even rude. For those in the know, it's a great way to get tasks completed and use available time efficiently.

In contemporary U.S. society, individualism is the standard; working for the betterment of the group is the relative exception. This is the complete opposite of what's found in the military. Putting the group before the person is an important aspect of military culture. Many civilians have difficulty understanding this level of personal sacrifice, embraced through all ranks and branches of the military.”  (“Is There a Military Personality?” Psychology Today, posted July 22, 2011,

But military veterans are not clones of each other anymore than people in other walks of life are. Although the ISTJ personality type is predominant, it is not universal. George Washington could have been an ISTJ or an ESFJ, Dwight Eisenhower was likely an ISTJ, but Napoleon Bonaparte was like an ENTJ, and Ulysses Grant was likely an ISFP. I am an INTP. Training in individual experiences also make a difference. Air Force, Navy and Marine fighter pilots and Army combat personnel will all be very direct and succinct in the communication because their lives and the lives of those around them depend on making decisions and communicating those decisions quickly and clearly without regard to personal feelings. The same is true of law enforcement personnel, firefighters and surgeons who must make and communicate decisions quickly—sometimes in seconds. On the other hand, someone like myself who was working on a staff influencing peers and senior officials must develop a more diplomatic and a more nuanced communication style, while still needing to be direct and succinct. But we can come across as blunt and arrogant to those who are not part of our culture.

I am a retired O-6, an Air Force Colonel. It is a senior rank (top 1% of the military) and roughly equivalent to a program director in the civilian world. ​Although I am trained to shoot firearms, I never carried one as part of my duties. My BS is in International Affairs specializing in National Security Policy track and my MS is in Strategic Intelligence, and much of my professional education and training focused on understanding the global environment. For most of my career I was a staff officer and team leader. In many of my assignments I was not directly in charge of anybody but used leadership and soft skills to develop and implement policy, manage budgets, develop strategies and plans, and identify and solve problems—the same thing a Toastmasters International Board Member does! And yes, I still carry my military rank because, as a retiree, I am still on the Air Force’s personnel list even though I am no longer actively serving.

bottom of page