Some Things I Think, I Think. Notes from the CEO COL (Ret.) Stokes.
4/16/2019 — Happy Easter
It is with honor, pride and a profound sense of purpose that I put my initial comments into our first Newsletter. I retired last year after thirty plus years of Military Service in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in the United States Army Reserves.
I learned a lot about life and met a lot of incredible people during my time in the military. I learned what it is like to low crawl for my breakfast as a Private during Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. I learned what it takes to be a Leader as a Senior Field Grade Officer at the rank of Colonel. Most importantly, I learned about the significance of human relationships and how incredibly important this simple but profound concept is to members of the Military Community.
Military Service changes us all forever, in a good way, and a large part of that change is the value we place on each other. In the Army we use the term “Battle Buddy” to help define the incredible relationships we form with each other. Relationships in the Military are “everything” and these bonds are carefully cultivated beginning during initial entry training and soar to an even higher level for those who deploy to a combat zone.
During one of his TED Talks, The Filmmaker, Author, and Journalist, Sebastian Junger, describes these bonds as Brotherhood, which is different than friendship. Brotherhood, and I will add Sisterhood, is a relationship where a person would undergo the ultimate sacrifice for their brother or sister. These kinds of bonds are essential for members of the military to accomplish the mission, especially when downrange. We must instinctively and without hesitation, react to circumstances for the good of the group.
While the value on the significance of human relationships is an integral part of Military Culture, it is not necessarily the case with our civilian counterparts. So, when thrust into the civilian community we can feel a sense of social isolation or disconnect, and this can lead to feelings of loneliness and anonymity. In my experience, this is our biggest challenge, the cultural divide between military and civilian cultures and resulting negative effects.
There is a lot being written about loneliness and its negative effects on our health. The former Surgeon General recently described loneliness in our society as an Epidemic, with a negative effect on our physical health equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. However, I did not hear him mention Veterans or members of the Military Community.
I founded Operation Strong Mind to dedicate my efforts towards the goal of reducing social isolation for members of the military community. Our mission is to close the military civilian gap, deisolate members of the military community and enable them to feel truly part of the country they sacrificed or are sacrificing so much for.
If you are reading this newsletter, I ask you to join our mission and be part of the solution to our challenge, through donations, volunteering, or by encouraging members of your organization to become trained on what is like to serve in today’s military.
I will close with these words: The most patriotic thing an American Citizen can do is help a member of the Military Community. As citizens of this great country, we should expect no less of ourselves.
Joke: From Reader’s Digest
After my niece returned from her second tour in Iraq, I remarked how beautiful her complexion looked. “What do you use on your face to keep it so smooth?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said. “I’ve been sandblasted.”
Wanda Kaltreider, Wrightsville, PA
Joke 2: From Reader’s Digest
My high school assignment was to ask a veteran about World War II. Since my father had served in the Philippines during the war, I chose him. After a few basic questions, I very gingerly asked, “Did you ever kill anyone?”
Dad got quiet. Then, in a soft voice, he said, “Probably. I was the cook.”
Marian Babula, Penn Run, PA