Major General Michael Harrison
Developing a Vision
Former Major General Michael Harrison: Overseas Duty
As a 34-year veteran of the United States Army, Former Major General Michael Harrison has experienced his fair share of challenges. From 2006 to 2007, he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as a senior leader. In that capacity, he supported the US Army's efforts in training and equipping the Afghan National Army in its war against the Taliban and other actors intent on destabilizing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. At the time, acts of terror posed a real threat to world peace, and in addition to its efforts, the US Army was helping nations combat the threat.
“The enemy that we see in Afghanistan is an elusive one. It has many names and many faces,” he said at the time. While the Army’s efforts were commendable, individual Soldiers displayed high levels of courage and perseverance to serve with honor while overseas. “I think what is important for the American people to understand is that the men and women of our great country are doing a tremendous job here,” he went on to add.
Soldiers risk their lives to ensure the peace and safety of their families back home. In such times, the thought of loved ones keeps them going, in addition to the knowledge that their efforts make a real difference to the lives of millions.
Former Major General Michael Harrison: Responsibility and Accountability
Former Major General Michael Harrison is in civilian life full time, for the first time in more than three decades. He retired from active duty in the United States military, effective in October 2014, and is currently seeing what his options are in the private sector.
"I served in the United States Army for thirty-four years," he says. "In that capacity, I learned the value of both responsibility and accountability. My value to any organization is that I know firsthand how to develop a vision, gain buy-in from the organization, and lead them to achieve that vision through shared effort."
From 2006 to 2007, Former Major General Michael Harrison served as a senior leader in Afghanistan, where he was responsible for supporting the equipping and training effort of the Afghan National Army. He said that that time that the global war on terrorism posed a genuine threat to the freedom-loving people of the world.
"The enemy that we see in Afghanistan is an elusive one," he said. "It has many names and many faces. I think what is important for the American people to understand is that the men and women of our great country are doing a tremendous job here. They are well trained, they're well led, and they are well-resourced."
Former Major General Michael Harrison said that it was the highest privilege of his military career to lead what he terms "America's sons and daughters" both at home and abroad. "There is no higher honor, and I am immensely proud that I had that opportunity," he said.
Former Major General Michael Harrison: Rhythm and Blues
Former Major General Michael Harrison is transitioning from the military life to civilian life. He spent thirty-four years as a soldier in the United States Army before retiring from active duty in October of 2014.
As he weighs his options in the private sector, where he says his ideal job would be as an Executive Coach in a large, International firm, he is taking advantage of the opportunity to spend more time with his family. That is something that has been in short supply during his thirty-four years of honorable military service, when he was often away on training exercises or deployed. He is also catching up on his reading, watching as much football as he can, and enjoying listening to his favorite music; in particular rhythm and blues (Motown especially 60s-80s), gospel, and country music.
That period, as he knows, was one of the most active and inventive times in American popular music, and it spawned some of the great music of the modern era. Nowadays, the term "rhythm and blues" means most African American urban music, but Former Major General Michael Harrison has an affinity for the “60s-80s classics. No rhythm and blues collection would be complete, he says, without recordings by the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, the Dells, Four Tops, Manhattans, James Brown, Larry Graham, Etta James, Aaron Neville, and many songs by Marvin Gaye. I am also a big fan of the gospel greats such as The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, The Harmonizing Four, The Consolers, Elvis Presley (yes, he sang gospel), Candi Staton’s gospel renditions.
And then there is the music of such icons as Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Smoky Robinson, and the Johnny Taylor.
Music scholars often say that rhythm and blues was forged from the southern blues music brought north and blended with more sophisticated urban jazz. But Former Major General Michael Harrison just knows great music when he hears it.
Former Major General Michael Harrison: Mentoring Young People
Former Major General Michael Harrison spent more than three decades in the United States Army, and says that one of the most satisfying things he did there was to lead and mentor the troops under his command. "I was given the opportunity and afforded the privilege of leading America's sons and daughters as a US Army Officer, both at home and abroad," he recalls. "There is no higher honor, and I am immensely proud that I had that opportunity."
He has always understood the importance of mentoring. "I grew up in a small rural town, surrounded by a loving family and strong supportive community," he recalls. "Neighbors cared about children and took personal responsibility for their welfare." There is a very popular phrase we hear often….”It takes a Village…” That concept was alive, well, and practiced in my hometown.
Mentors, he says, can have an enormous positive impact on developing lives of young people. In this he is in agreement with Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, who says that giving people advice on how they can achieve their goals is something that is too often overlooked. "Mentoring was very important for me, personally," Branson says.
Former Major General Michael Harrison says that nothing less than the future of the United States rests on how today's emerging generation of young people are instructed and influenced by the generation that they are following. "The next generation represents the future leadership of our country," he says. "It is my responsibility, and the responsibility of my generation, to ensure they are well prepared for their eventual leadership role in leading America."
Former Major General Michael Harrison, who retired from active duty in the Army in October of 2014, says that one of his goals in private life is to become the president of a College or University, where he can inspire young men and women to become the best people that they can be.
Former Major General Michael Harrison: Orient Shield
Former Major General Michael Harrison spent thirty-four years in the United States Army before retiring from active duty in October 2014.
"I learned the value of both responsibility and accountability," he says, as he reflects on his long military experience.
In 2011, Former Major General Michael Harrison was the Commanding General of US Army Japan and First Corps (Forward), and in that capacity visited the annual Orient Shield, an annual, bi-lateral Brigade and Regimental tactical field training exercise with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. "I wanted to observe the Orient Shield exercise that's being conducted by a unit out of the Texas Army National Guard, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry," he said shortly after arriving. "Neither of these units – the Texas Guard or the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force – had met, and they have forged a friendship, and a great deal of respect for each others' capabilities."
Former Major General Michael Harrison received a tour of the Camp Kita-Fuji grounds, and a briefing about the training that was taking place. He also met with the Chief of Staff of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force to discuss the bi-lateral operations and discussed ideas for future cooperation help sustain the continued positive and professional relationship between the United States and Japan.
Since retiring from active duty, Former Major General Michael Harrison has been exploring opportunities in the private sector, and says that he would love to be an Executive Coach for an International firm. Further down the road, he says that he would like to become the President of a College or University. "My goal is to help make organizations better," he says, "more effective and efficient."
Former Major General Michael Harrison - Exploring His Options
Former Major General Michael Harrison is exploring his options in the private sector, since he retired from active duty in the United States Army after thirty-four years of honorable service.
During his military career, he received what he calls "normal Army promotions." He entered the service in May of 1980. By July of 1996 he had attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He became a Major General in December 2009.
In a career with many highlights, Former Major General Michael Harrison led the U.S. Army's efforts in support of Japan after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated large sections of the north east part of Japan in March 2011. That quake touched off a deadly tsunami that deluged cities and rural areas and led to a nuclear crisis after one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station failed shortly after the quake.
"We just want to help," Former Major General Michael Harrison said. He explained that the military's role was to assist the Japanese government with humanitarian aid, cleaning schools, providing showers and kerosene, handing out backpacks filled with emergency supplies, and helping displaced citizens. He was seen in a widely distributed photograph giving a high-five to a toddler, one of the countless displaced Japanese citizens.
The earthquake was the most powerful measured quake to ever hit Japan, and the fourth-most powerful measured quake since modern earthquake measuring began in 1900. More than fifteen thousand people perished in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. According to numbers made public in early 2014, more than one hundred metric tons of radioactive water leaked from a Fukushima holding tank because of damage caused by the quake.
Former Major General Michael Harrison: Transition to Civilian Life
Many military veterans find it hard to transition to civilian life upon retiring from active duty. Some are completely at a loss with how to transition from what they were used to for a long time, while others find the process relatively easy. Former Major General Michael Harrison, having served in the United States Army for 34 years, retired in October 2014. Since his retirement from active duty, he has taken up spending more time with his family while also engaging in his favorite hobbies.
Former Major General Michael Harrison is thankful that his family has made the transition easy. In his career, he was a very active mentor to young men and women, and often spoke at high school graduation ceremonies and leadership seminars at various institutions. The passion for mentorship has also helped his transition from active duty, as the opportunities to motivate the youth have given him something to look forward to.
However, not many retired service men and women are as lucky with their transitions to civilian life. Often, finding a career that suits their skill sets presents a big challenge. Finding a suitable career and employing the appropriate job search strategies are often some of the issues they face. Others find it hard to integrate back into the social aspects of their lives, especially those who have served in combat environments for extended periods.
While there is no blueprint for an easy transition, taking it a day at a time is a good way to start.