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About my Twenties…

This summer, I’ve been attempting to finish several books that are kicking my butt:  Inés del Alma Mía (yes, it’s in Spanish), The Histories (yes, it’s Herodotus), and Anna Karenina (yes, it’s Tolstoy).  I’m also working on a book review for T&P and… I joined the Marine Corps reserves.

When I left active duty in 2013, I didn’t intend to return to the military.  I was so decided on this, that I ignored all emails with subject headings like, “Professional Military Education Opportunities”, and  “Opportunities in the Select Marine Corps Reserve”. A few more months of this and my officer commission would have been revoked and that would have been the end of that. But it isn’t the end; rather it’s a new professional beginning.  All this to say, that I have also been busy this summer catching up on my heretofore ignored Professional Military Education requirements. This includes a self-study course where I learn about how the Marine Corps makes war in far away places with words like war fighting, doctrine, maneuver, and operations making regular appearances in the reading material.

In my twenties, I learned to be a military officer.  What I’ve realized is that for me, what I learned to do in my twenties is what will stay with me for the rest of my professional life. This has much to do with the fact that family life has made it difficult to launch a second career because that season of my life, my twenties, in which I could devote nearly all my attention to the pursuit of a vocation will never again present itself– at least, not in the same way as before. In hindsight, it’s curious to me that I wanted to leave behind the Marine Corps so completely. Why would abandoning what I spent my formative adult years learning to do be a no-brainer? It turns out that being in military for me is as natural as riding a bike: I know how to do it; I know what to expect; I instantly feel the benefit of the years I’ve put into it; I feel right at home. 

Contributed Article: America’s Parade Veteran’s Day Magazine

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In the 1960s, the war in Vietnam raged and was broadcast into the homes of Americans.  Public opinion frayed; skepticism begot distrust and distrust begot hostility.  The outcome was tragic on all fronts, especially in the treatment of veterans returning home.

Today at least, this is different.  Many organizations have championed veterans across a spectrum of needs as varied and diverse as the people who serve.  Fortune 100 companies have launched military focused recruiting, and top universities offer military scholarships.  Public interest in veteran treatment and mental health has even compelled top media outlets to investigate government agencies, and jurisdictions have founded Veteran Treatment Courts to address the specific needs of veterans who find themselves in trouble with the law.

“I know with PTSD, if we’re not treating it, [veterans] will continue in our system,” said Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge and Veteran Treatment Court founder, Stephen V. Manley. “That’s what we’ve seen with Vietnam veterans. We did not address the unique problems of veterans after Vietnam…and we had terrible outcomes.”

To not address the needs of veterans transitioning from military service is to repeat history; it’s one area where the trend is moving in a positive direction.

Plebe Summer

I love this image of Plebes at the Naval Academy. It’s by Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Lucian Perkins and titled – of all things – Taking Charge.  I wish I knew more about what brought him to USNA to document plebes.  There’s nothing like a few years between me and my military service to let me see it encapsulated like this with fresh eyes.  I found the image here.

Five Lessons From My Military Transition

After the moving service packed up my home, an Au Pair, a toddler, and two cats piled into my Subaru Outback.  I waved goodbye to the Marine Corps and a little known Army base at 95th Street in Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge shrinking behind us, to finally join my husband in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He was getting his masters at MIT.

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A Letter to Philly

Dear Philadelphia, 

I never visited you before, but something about your gratified overpass and checkerboard neighborhoods tells me: you don’t care. 

As a city, you lie somewhere between Union City, New Jersey, and Boston, Massachusetts (though closer to Union City.). Your streets at first charm me, but soon disturb me.  Why, Philadelphia, do some of your residents still catcall oblivious women tourists on her way to a cheesesteak?

And speaking of food, you Philly have lots to brag about!  I can’t comment on your cheesesteaks (I never made it to Pat’s) but your pizza is top notch.  You’re home to what is (allegedly) the greatest pizza in America: Pizza Beddia.  A place so hip and so cool my friends and I have to stand in line two hours just to make sure we get a pie (did I mention they only make 40 a night?).  I don’t know if it’s the greatest pizza in America, but it might be the most expensive (did I mention they only take orders in person?).  Pizza Beddia: The greatest pizza adventure in America.

But enough about food, your museums are…interesting.  Anyone who would enjoy viewing a 19th century cadaver preserved in soap should visit your Mutter Museum.  Everyone else should probably find something else to do.  

Like your historical sites!  You won’t find Lady Liberty anywhere else.  I mean, the Liberty Bell.  My tour of Independence Hall left me with one burning question: Why is our nation’s capital Washington DC and not Philadelphia?  A ranger later tells me it’s because that’s what George Washington wanted. 

Sticking around your nice spots, I start to think, ‘gee, maybe raising a family in real city wouldn’t be so bad after all? Look at the culture! Look at the diversity!’  And then I have to buy birthday candles for my sister at a CVS.  CVS is out of birthday candles.  Why Philly, don’t you have a Walmart someplace walkable and convenient?  I’m sure your residents like everyday low prices as much as we suburbanites.  

I’ll likely visit you again Philly.  After all, my sister is there.  But once she leaves I might not come back.  And something tells me that you don’t care.