I am a retired (21 ½ years) Infantry First Sergeant (E-8) who served in the Gulf War, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan. I am an avid writer, fisherman and outdoor enthusiast. I call Kuna, Idaho home and hope to one day write professionally.
I know this a subject nobody wants to discuss, but remember get educated and find reliable people to help you. The Carlson Law Firm is who you want in your corner.... Gene
Posted in Family Law April 26, 2018
Military divorce differs from civilian divorce in many ways. For example, when active members of the military—or their spouses—file for a divorce, they are subject to special and unique circumstances. When filing for a divorce, there are several elements that the military influences that you need to consider. Including:
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Where the divorce can be filed
Child custody and visitation
How support is calculated
How divorce affects military pay
Property and retirement division
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that can affect your divorce or child custody case in many ways. The SCRA protects servicemembers from having a court order entered in their absence due to military services. This allows the servicemember to focus on their missions abroad. Because of this, the SCRA allows servicemembers to request a delay in any court or agency proceeding that might affect their relationships with their children where they are unable to appear, due to their military service.
While the SCRA is good for servicemembers, it can be frustrating for non-military spouses if servicemembers delay proceedings. However, the SCRA protects servicemembers from courts issuing permanent decisions until they can arrange to be there. Courts must balance the rights of military and civilian spouses.
Where Can I File My Divorce?
For many military spouses, the difficult decision to divorce may arise in a state where you have just moved. In some cases, one spouse may have moved back to the state they are from originally from. Courts need to establish jurisdiction over you and your spouse to determine your case. Consult with a family law attorney to determine if Texas is the right state to file for divorce.
Active Duty Child Custody and Visitation
State law determines child custody and visitation. Active-duty families face unique challenges that civilian families do not. For example, active duty service members may receive orders that station them at a base in a different state or deploy to various parts of the world. This can put a strain on existing arrangements and create stress for parents and children.
A qualified Military Divorce Attorney can help you navigate these circumstances and advocate for make-up time upon a return from mobilization or deployment.
How is Military Divorce Support Calculated?
Active-duty servicemembers can be legally required to support their children just like anyone else. In Texas, all income you receive, including base pay, BAH, BAS, and even disability pay, is used to calculate the state-guideline child support amount.
Additionally, parents will be required to maintain health insurance for the child. If the person ordered to pay child support does not have health insurance available to them at a reasonable rate, the person ordered to pay child support may be required to reimburse the parent paying for insurance.
Spousal support is very fact specific to each case. In Texas, a spouse may be eligible to receive temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending and spousal maintenance once the case is finalized.
How Will Divorce Affect My Pay?
Divorce and BAH
BAH allowance post-divorce depends on whether or not you are the primary custodian of the children, pay child support, and/or live in single-type Government quarters. If you are the primary custodian of your children, then you are authorized BAH at the with-dependent rate if not assigned adequate family-type Government quarters. If your former spouse is the primary custodian and you are paying child support (at least in an amount of your BAH-DIFF rate) you are authorized BAH at the with-dependent rate if not in Government quarters or BAH-DIFF if assigned single-type Government quarters.
BAH-DIFF is the housing allowance amount for a member who is assigned to single-type quarters and who is authorized a BAH solely by reason of the member’s payment of child support. A member is not authorized BAH-DIFF if the monthly rate of that child support is less than the BAH-DIFF amount. The BAH-DIFF amounts, originally calculated in 1997, are updated annually based on changes in the Basic Pay tables. For more information, contact your servicing finance office.
Is My Military Retirement Subject to Division?
Property and Retirement
All property, including retirement, acquired during the marriage is subject to division by the Court. Former spouses might receive a portion of the service member’s retirement pay directly from DFAS if the couple’s marriage lasted at least ten years and the service member performed at least ten years of creditable military service during the marriage. If you were married less than ten years, the service member spouse might be required to pay the former spouse a portion of their retirement directly to the former spouse post-retirement.
Former spouses can continue accessing military benefits (healthcare and commissary) if the couple’s marriage lasted at least 20 years and the servicemember performed at least 20 years of creditable military service during the marriage.
In both child support and spousal support, the military requires servicemembers to meet their obligations described in the divorce decree or court order. When a servicemember does not meet those obligations, they may face military discipline and in addition to enforcement through civil court.
Hire Heroes amends the Wounded Warrior Act to extend through 2014 providing the
same rehabilitation and vocational benefits to members of the Armed Forces with
severe injuries or illnesses as are provided to veterans. (Bill Summary & Status 112th Congress (2011 - 2012), 2012). The Veterans
Opportunity to Work (VOW) and the Hire Heroes Act are bipartisan, comprehensive
legislation that combines provisions of Chairman Miller’s Veterans Opportunity
to Work (VOW) Act - which passed the House on October 12, 2011 - (H.R. 2433;
Report #112-242), and Chairman Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report
#112-36), and veterans’ tax credits into a comprehensive jobs package that will
aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veterans' unemployment.
Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act combines provisions of the Hiring Heroes Act (S.
951; Report #112-242) which was first introduced by Florida Representative Jeff Miller
as a way to assist veterans either retired or leaving the active duty forces a
way to transition seamlessly into the civilian workforce. Representative
Millers VOW Act was initially introduced on July 7, 2011 with 31 cosponsors it
highlighted three key areas; Retraining Veterans, Improving the Transition
Assistance Program, and Improving the Transition of Veterans to Civilian
the Force allows the Secretary of Labor through the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs the ability to provide up to 12 months of financial assistance for
qualified Veterans for retraining assistance. One of the important aspects of
this retraining is it targets the veterans between the ages of 35 to 60. This
demographic is often the service member who has spent decades of their life in
the military and often do not have skills that are comparable to the civilian
the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) revises the guidelines for releasing
military bases that primarily provide the TAP services to departing military
members whether retiring or who have reached their Expiration Term of Service
(ETS) with requirements to provide specific services to military members such
as counseling, employment, and training services. Services members will be
required to participate in these services unless a documented operational requirement
prevents them for participating in the services. Key elements to TAP are:
·Employment and career goals
·Education and training
·Health and Well-being
·Relocation and housing assistance
the Transition of Veterans to Civilian Employment directs the Secretary of
Labor along with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to select five but not more
than ten Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) that through a coalition of
state governors can cross over to state licensing and credentialing. This allows departing military member with
specialized training the ability to become licensed or credentialed in their
home state without having to duplicate training or schooling.
important piece to this legislation is that it provides employers with
incentives to hire veterans by providing tax incentives. These tax incentives
provide up to $5,600 for each veteran hired and up to $9,600 for each disabled
veteran hired, if the veteran has been looking for work for six months or
loosely modeled their proposal of the VOW Hire our Heroes after President Franklin
D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps used during the Great Depression to
put people to work planting trees, building parks and constructing dams. (Freking, 2012)
to the Labor Department, there are 3.4 million job openings right now in the
United States. Yet, many employers are finding that workers do not have the
skills or training they need to qualify for them.
There are nearly
900,000 unemployed veterans in the United States–a staggering figure. The
latest Department of Labor unemployment report shows that in October 2011, the
average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7% and 12.1% for veterans
returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Equally troubling, veterans between the
ages of 35 and 64, the group with the highest financial obligations and the
fewest available VA education and training options, continue to make up nearly
two-thirds of all unemployed veterans. Overall, nearly one in twelve of our
nation’s heroes can’t find a job to support their family, don’t have an income
that provides stability, and don’t have work that provides them with the
confidence and pride that is so critical to their transition home (House Commitee on Veteran's Affairs, 2012). For a comparative
analysis provided by the Department of Labor for unemployed veterans compared
to civilian populations in the demographic age of 18 and older see Table 1.
community colleges, local workforce investment and career training
organizations have proven that public-private collaboration can be highly
effective at preparing and placing veterans in new positions where their skills
are needed. Continued support for public-private partnerships will help
transition veterans into civilian jobs (Jones, 2012).
is a conservative figure that 1.5 million service members will make the
transition from military life to the civilian sector over the next five
years. While in Idaho these figures will
be substantially lower the impact on the community which as of August 2012 was
ranked 23 in the United States with an unemployment rate of 7.4% or 57,081.
of Labor does not have any current data that tracks veterans who were
unemployed prior to the most recent deployment of the 116th Cavalry
out of Gowen Field. Nor does it have data that tracks the number of veterans
and Soldiers that were re-hired or simply re-integrated back into their former
jobs but it is believed that at least 40% were unemployed prior to the
deployment (Associated Press, 2011).
Existing Resources to Deal with the Problem
On September 20,
2012 the Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have established a
$1 billion jobs program putting veterans back to work tending to the country’s
federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments. (Freking, 2012) Senator Tom Coburn
of Oklahoma stated the federal already has six job-training programs available
to veterans. Stating the problem is not with helping veterans return to the job
market but there is no way of knowing how well the programs in place are
working. Senator Coburn argued that the
best way to help veterans is by first fixing the nation’s debt this would be a
long term solution that would help veterans and their families.
programs currently being offered are: Veterans Rehabilitation & Employment
(VR&E) and VetSuccess which provides a Veteran who is found eligible for
the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, and who has an
employment handicap vocational rehabilitation services. Following the Vocational
Rehabilitation Counselor's determination that a Veteran has met the entitlement
criteria, the counselor and Veteran will jointly develop a plan for a
rehabilitation program with a goal typically leading toward employment. In some
cases, the plan goal may be related to an independent living need. This plan
will provide all of the needed services and assistance identified through the
initial evaluation. In those cases when
a Veteran is not found to be entitled, the VA Counselor will assist him or her
to use the information gathered in the initial evaluation to identify other
options, goals, and programs that should contribute to sound vocational
adjustment, for example, referral to the State Vocational Rehabilitation
program, information about financial aid, and referral to the Department of
Labor's Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) program.
Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows agencies, to
appoint eligible veterans without competition. An eligible veteran can be
appointed under this authority at any grade level up to and including a GS-11
or equivalent. Agencies can also use VRA to fill temporary (not to exceed 1
year) or term (more than 1 year but not to exceed 4 years) positions. Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998,
as amended (VEOA) is a competitive service appointing authority that can only
be used when filling permanent, competitive service positions. It cannot be
used to fill excepted service positions. It allows veterans to apply to announcements
that are only open to so called "status" candidates, which means
"current competitive service employees."
The most recent federally funded program is
the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) this program this program is
currently limited to 45,000 participants from July 1, 2012, through September
30, 2012, and 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014.
Participants of the program must attend school full-time in order to receive up
to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under
the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program ($1,564 effective October 1, 2012).
The Department of Labor will offer employment assistance to every Veteran who
participates upon completion of the program. Participants of the program must
be enrolled in a VA approved program of education offered by a community
college or technical school and the program must lead to an Associate Degree,
Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and train the Veteran for a high demand
are more than 70 cosponsors to the Hiring our Heroes Act. President Obama has been a firm supporter of
federally funding programs that put the veteran back into the workforce.
Unfortunately as of September 20, 2012 Senate Republicans blocked the bill
saying that the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress
agreed to last year. Senate Democrats fell two votes shy of the 60-vote
majority needed to waive the objection forcing the legislation back into
committee (Freking, 2012).
Veterans' Recruitment Appointment (VRA) denounced the vote saying “This bill was
bipartisan policy that would have put veterans back into service for their
communities as policeman, firefighters and first responders, but the results of
today’s vote creates tremendous doubt that this Congress will be able to pass
any additional veterans legislation in 2012. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans
should not have to wait until 2013 for critical support from Congress” (Freking, 2012).
With 2012 being an
election year the stake holders for the Hire our Heroes legislation are the
President and candidate Mitt Romney.
This legislation is vital is showing support for the military and the
transitioning members of the service. The drawdown of Afghanistan by 2014 will
only compound the problems associated with veteran joblessness. The VA has
estimated that more than 500,000 new disability claims will be filed over the
next five years. This number does not represent the number of veterans and
disabled veterans using the current resources available to them to promote job
education and eventually stable employment.
is a question that has been included into the syllabi of every leadership
school I have attended from Primary Leadership Development Course to the Senior
Leader Course. There is no definitive answer to whether a person is born a
leader or made a leader. Instead it seems that leadership is a combination of
intelligence and aptitude. For this
paper I will discuss the history of the study of leadership and also how the
Biological approach and the humanistic approach would explain the personality
traits that are associated with the subject of leadership.
To understand leadership and the development or nurturing
of it I thought it was important to look at the way leadership has been studied
over the years. Two early foundations of the leadership concept are; philosophy
and moral law.
Leadership has numerous theoretical roots. Socrates in
Plato’s Republic, said that the “leadership
of civil institutions were to be reserved for the “specially” trained
philosopher-kings, not to the ill-trained or uniformed masses who were meant to
be followers.” (Hays, 1967)
Many military classes at West Point or
The Naval Academy still quote Sun Tzu when discussing senior and subordinate
relationships. Aristotle described moral conduct and behaviors that all leaders
should poses, these “codes” influenced many great leaders notably Alexander the
Great. Machiavelli describes the cruelty, dishonesty, and sometimes brutality
that were shown by leaders in his book The
Moral Codes affect many concepts of leadership. Marcus
Aurelius spoke often of the moral and ethical responsibilities leaders were
held too under the Roman Empire. Judaeo-Christian teachings emphasize the divine
source from which all leadership is derived from. These
teaching have emphasized the necessity for the utmost ethical standards by all leaders. Moral Codes were the foundations for the
formation of the Japanese code of conduct known commonly as Bushido or the “The
Warriors Way” which emphasized tenets such as honor, loyalty, and frugality.
The west had a much similar concept known as chivalry which also emphasized the
duty to your king, to your God, and to your women. In today’s Army Officers and
Non-Commissioned officers are consistently judged on their moral and ethical
The psychological and
trait approach to leadership can raise numerous questions about the development
and the emergence of the leadership trait or quality. Using the biological
approach or more specifically Hans Eysenck’s theory on personality a leader
exhibits some of his personality dimensions on certain levels. The first being
extroversion, a leader can usually be described as an A-Type personality. The
leader is usually outspoken and can excel within the group dynamic, the leader
is usually an outgoing person that has many contacts. Most leaders are usually
not introverted, but in my experience I have seen some of the more effective
leaders that were border line introverted. Much of their leadership was derived
from charisma and their knowledge of their profession, this in turn prompted
respect from their subordinates. Neuroticism is a trait that a leader does not
want exhibit because having very strong emotional reactions to minor
frustrations may not solve the problem but may in fact exacerbate the problem,
especially with subordinates, because a leader needs to be a level headed
person that weight facts objectively without investing to much emotional bias
into the problem. But then again a leader does not want to display the
psychoticism super trait because he does not want to appear cold or impersonal
to the subordinate. A good leader needs to be empathetic and show concern for
The humanistic approach to leadership would say that the
leader is in a position that he chooses to be in and that nobody is forcing him
to take the responsibility that he has chosen to take. The humanistic approach
would say that a leader takes personal responsibility for the actions he or she
chooses to take or not take and in effect suffer the consequences of their
action or bask in the glory that may come from the decision to act. From the
humanistic perspective a psychologist may say that a leader is ineffective
because they spend too much time planning on the future or reflecting on the
past. The humanistic psychologist may also say that a leader should remember
their past experiences but should not allow them to dictate what they are. We
all know that much of leadership is derived from the experiences that they gain
throughout their career.
Leaders can be classified into different categories. The first
category is the manner in which the leader achieves his or her position. In
informal groups a leader may emerge from the group by asserting himself or
herself. This can be an example of the
“born” theory, in which the individual is able to shut down his competition and
take over. In the Army we often call this “initiative” and it is part of the
Army’s definition of leadership which is; “the
ability to influence others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose,
direction, and motivation.” The charismatic leader is much like the emergent
leader. The charismatic leader is that person that can walk into a room and all
eyes turn to look and people seem to just gravitate towards. The charismatic leader may not have the
technical or the tactical experience that some other leaders may have but they
still have the ability to influence people to follow them an example of this
type of leader is Adolph Hitler.
The second category is the more formal raise in the
hierarchy of leadership. The rise to a
leadership position may either through a democratic process, such as our
elected officials. These leaders were
“made” in the sense that they went through the education process and climbed
through the ranks to get to that position. In the Army I came in as a private
and served first as a rifleman, then progressed to the position of team leader,
squad leader, platoon sergeant, and first sergeant. In my experience it is important for a leader
to progress through the ranks and serve in those positions where “the rubber
meets the road”. Each position
capitalizes on the experience of the previous position.
An example of great leadership can be found in the movie We were Soldiers. In this movie Mel
Gibson plays Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Hal Moore the Commander of the 1st
Battalion, 7th Cavalry. General Moore graduated from West Point in
1945 and attended graduate school at George Washington and Harvard University.
Later in his career he taught at West Point where General Norman Schwarzkopf
was one of his students.General
Schwarzkopf would later comment that General Moore was the biggest influence in
his decision to become an Infantry officer. The 7th Cavalry was the
unit General George Armstrong Custer led in the Battle of the little big
horn.Prior to their deployment to
Vietnam LTC Moore gives a speech to his Soldiers saying;"Look around you, in the 7th Cavalry, we
got a Captain from the Ukraine, another from Puerto Rico, we got Japanese,
Chinese, Blacks, Hispanics, Cherokee Indian, Jews and Gentiles, all American.
Now here in the States some men in this unit may experience discrimination
because of race or creed, but for you and me now, all that is gone. We're
moving into the valley of the shadow of death, where you will watch the back of
the man next to you, as he will watch yours, and you won't care what color he
is or by what name he calls God. Let us understand the situation; we're going
into battle against a tough and determined enemy. I can't promise you that I
will bring you all home alive, but this I swear: when we go into battle, I will
be the first one to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off.
And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together.
So help me God."
General Hal More
Moore was able to draw from his experiences leading Soldiers and from his
education which taught him the principles of leadership. These experiences
would later be passed on to his students at West Point. All leaders draw upon
their experiences as a foundation for developing their own style of leadership.
So is a leader made or born? With the proper education I believe that anybody
has the potential to be a leader but at different levels of responsibility.
Leadership is a lifelong process and when you think you have seen it all you
get blindsided by some new situation or a subordinate that you just can’t seem
to figure out.
I have been pondering the idea of writing a letter to you
after you let me go on 7/15/2015. I knew that it would not make a difference to
you so I decided to write and post it here, so that my fellow Veterans and
Social Workers can see how you have turned a vulnerable population in dollar
When I came and talked to you about ethical conflicts
that I had with the way you handled a very serious situation you chose to
terminate me rather than understand the egregiousness of your decision. You
failed to uphold the ethical principles and ethical standards for a population
of individuals we are supposed to protect, advocate for and be role models too.
How do you ask? Well, you made the decision to allow an
individual with numerous mental deficits stay the night with a convicted sexual
offender and then when you found out that that individual had been “possibly molested
or raped or taken advantage of” you used
me as your scape goat.When potential
information came forward that this was not an isolated incident and may have
been happening for a while you simply shrugged it off saying “how can we know
if the victim is really telling the truth, because of his mental state” you
also stated that “this happened a long time ago.” After the family became enraged you simply hid
and allowed your staff to take the brunt of the repercussions. That Sir is not leadership
that is cowardice.
When a victim of sexual or physical abuse comes forward
to law enforcement they are simply not told “well sir/ma’am it happened a long
time ago”. Instead, proactive measures are taken to ensure those who allowed it
or perpetrated the crime are held accountable. When the criminal in this case
could not pass two polygraph tests you still did nothing.
When I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work I
agreed to adhere to ethics and standards set forth by the National Association of
Social Workers (NASW). These were presented in every class, role playing scenarios
and re-enforced in the 1100 hours of clinical internships I participated in. The
primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being
and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to
the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed,
and living in poverty. Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The
profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical
principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these
values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct. The
Code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of
their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations
they serve. (NASW)
My example to you is in Ethics is:
Integrity - Social workers are continually aware of the profession’s mission,
values, ethical principles, and ethical standards and practice in a manner
consistent with them. Social workers act honestly and responsibly and promote
ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which they are
My example to you in the
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Clients is:
Commitment to Clients: Social workers’ primary responsibility is to promote the
well-being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. However,
social workers’ responsibility to the larger society or specific legal
obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients, and
clients should be so advised. My final example to you
is in the area of NASW compromised standards and ethics is:
6.04 Social and
Political Action –
(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of,
exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on
the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation,
gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion,
immigration status, or mental or physical
We (I say we because in the military we take
responsibility for our actions or inactions) failed to do that Sir
and for bringing it to your attention I was fired….
These principles of conduct were not new to me for 22
years I modeled these in foreign countries and places where the United States
was not a welcomed visitor. These are known and the Seven Army Values: Loyalty
- Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. constitution, the Army, and other
soldiers. Be loyal to the nation
and its heritage. Duty- Fulfill your obligations. Accept
responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care. Respect
- Rely upon the golden rule. How we
consider others reflects upon each of us, both personally and as a professional
Service - Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your
subordinates before your own. Selfless
service leads to organizational teamwork and encompasses discipline,
self-control and faith in the system. Honor
Live up to all the Army values. Integrity
- Do what is right, legally and morally. Be
willing to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is our "moral
compass" an inner voice. Personal
Courage - Our ability
to face fear, danger, or adversity, both physical and moral courage.
Has the civilian society lost its moral compass? Are
people with disabilities simply seen as equity? When a Director, Program
Manager or Leader of any sort is questioned by a subordinate or employee about
the morality of a decision is it easier to avoid the problem and just get rid
of it? I think so…I now understand why veterans these days are finding it hard
to maintain or even get a job in this society. Because we are not afraid “to do
the right thing” we are not afraid to “accept responsibility for our actions”
we are not afraid to “stand up for what is right” and I think that scares employers.
Case in point: I retired after 22 years in the military.
I hold the nation’s 3rd highest award for Valor the Bronze Star with
Combat “V”, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in
Social Work has this helped me find a job? NO, I believe that it has prevented
me from even getting an interview. My military service, and the fact that I
have been to combat plus I am a disabled veteran with tBI’s prevents me from
even getting in the door. I applied for an interviewed for a Vocational
Rehabilitation position for the State of Idaho, I did not get it. Seriously I
am a disabled veteran and I was not qualified to work with people with
disabilities? Where did we go wrong? Society sees veterans as an enigma
something that can’t be understood, something that people don’t want to
understand and something that is volatile “hey that guy’s a vet watch out he
may come back and shoot us all.” But we are not, we are people who are trying
to fit back into society; we are simply people and families trying to
transition back onto the civilian world. I feel disappointed that I fought and
did the dirty work for our country to come back and be shit upon. So in reality maybe you did me a favor by letting me go,
maybe you did you a favor by not having to look at yourself in the mirror and
see that you allowed something so sinful to happen. But you won’t because your
paycheck as an administrator and your new Lexus will help you forget.
I, Sir will not
forget because I will continue to speak for those who can’t and I will continue
to bring THEIR value as people not as income to the fore front!!!
I had the great pleasure to interview Robert “Bob” Brownbridge. I had first met
Bob at a meeting held by the Boise City Police Department concerning the
development of a resource manual that would be geared specifically towards helping
veterans in any stage of life or circumstance. This resource manual would be a
complete set of resources identifying various agencies and individuals
throughout the local community that could be readily used by local agencies and
law enforcement officers when they came into contact with them.
Bob was immediately drawn to the fact that I had retired
from the military and had started my graduate program in Social Work with the
hope to help veterans after graduation. He had received his master’s degree in
Social Work from UC Berkeley, where he was the founder and first editor of the Berkley Journal of Social Welfare. Bob
lived in the bay area until 2009 and worked for over forty years as a
psychotherapist and community organizer. Bob confided in me that since he had
moved to Boise he began to see the need for a community outreach program specifically
for veterans that would be sponsored by the local religious organizations. He
had the idea but did not know how to bring this all together. We soon began to
meet regularly speaking about our drive to help others and he has since been a
friend and a mentor for me. When I started this assignment I could not think of
a better person to write about than Bob Brownbridge.
Bob Brownbridge was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1930. A
small rural town of 60,000 people spread out over various plots of land in
which “neighbors would rely on each other for everything” (Brownbridge, 2013). Bob describes the culture as “farm
town mid-western values in which hard work, integrity and faith was vital for
the survival and social existence of the families” (Brownbridge,
Because his family worked the land he was instilled with work ethic that revolved
around hard back breaking work. The emphasis on education was down played
because you did not need college to farm. When asked about how the rural world
has changed Bob replied that the “small town farmer is gone, but there is still
the core beliefs that I was brought up with” (Brownbridge, 2013). One of the biggest changes he has seen
over the years is a decline in the value of hard work; instead people now rely
Bob described his family as very close and church
orientated, but there was an underlying cynicism that began to evolve in front
of him. At age eight Bob began to see a hypocritical side of his family and
this revelation would foster a desire to leave them and Iowa. He describes his
family as secretly critical of outsiders and those who were of different
cultures and ethnicities. They would not confront or say prejudicial things in
front of others but when it was just the family they would talk about the
“blacks and the Jews” as so different they could not be classified as a human.
He began to withdraw from his family and started to cultivate his creative
talents. He loved to write poetry, read books and paint, but this was frowned
upon by his family because as he described it “it was looked at as
individuality and in our small town and especially in my family if you were not
part of the norm then you were different and different did not survive” (Brownbridge, 2013).
There were two influential people in his life, the first
being his aunt. She was a woman who had been all over the world, who had many
boyfriends, and who would tell Bob about the fast paced life of a woman neither
committed to anything or anyone. She was candid with him and would tell him of
lovers and parties she would attend in places like Paris and Honolulu. He
wished that he could just leave with her and get away from Iowa. He likened it
to the 1958 movie Auntie Mame “Mame
is an unconventional individualist socialite from the roaring 20's. When her
brother dies, she is forced to raise her nephew Patrick. However, Patrick's
father has designated an executor to his will to protect the boy from absorbing
too much of Mame's rather unconventional perspective. Patrick and Mame become
devoted to each other in spite of this restriction, and together journey
through Patrick's childhood and the great depression, amidst some rather zany
adventures.” (Thompson, 2013) He confided that he wished that she
could have been his mother. The second person was his grandfather, who Bob was
“ordered” by his mother and father to not like. He described his grandfather as
good at everything, he was a huge man who had played minor league baseball, was
a master craftsman and was known around town as a womanizer. Bob described a
man that was not afraid of anything and would not back down from a fight and
could drink with boys. Having been told to not like him made Bob like him even
more and he began to set his sights as far outside Iowa as he could. At 12
years old he remembers his mother commenting “I just don’t know what happened
to Bob, he changed” (Brownbridge, 2013).
The rift with his family dynamic grew and by age 15 he
decided to leave the family church and thus began his self-described
“rebellious” stage began. He began hanging out with the boys who were known
simply in town as the “bad crowd”. He spent nights drinking, gambling and
When Bob turned 17 years his mother tired of being poor
and living a meager life off of the $225 per month his father made as a
distributer of farm supplies decided to uproot the family and move to Spokane,
Washington. His father would get a job with the same company as a salesman, a
poor decision that did not last long due to his father being extremely
introverted. This forced his mother to work as the primary bread winner of the
family and Bob seeing that the family was in need of additional income began to
work as well. Bob would continue to work all through his junior and senior year
of high school and would even pay for his college tuition at Whitman College.
While Bob’s younger years would shape him it was after he moved out of the home
and struck his independence that he describes as the “real formative years”.
Bob first began his secondary education at the University
of Washington where he described as “not very successful”. Bob found the
temptation of being out on his own for the first time drawn towards parties and
drinking on campus. He spent only one semester there and then decided to move
to Whitman College which was a smaller school located in Walla Walla Washington
a small rural town that seemed a little like Iowa, a place he had looked
forward to leaving but a place that now alone provided some comfort. While
attending college Bob was active in sports playing basketball for the school
and he describes himself as a “great athlete”. During the summers he would work
for the Forest Service at Priest Lake, Idaho, located in the northernmost
portion of the Idaho Panhandle, 80 miles north of Spokane, Washington. His
modest earnings of $1,500 per summer would help pay his tuition at Whitman
College. It was here that Bob would learn about the Korean War, the draft, and
what life really had in store for him.
Sitting on a mountain side overlooking Upper Priest Lake
his Forest Service Supervisor sat with him at lunch and asked him “did you hear
about the war that broke out yesterday in Korea?” (Brownbridge, Into War with an Empty Gun, 2012) Not knowing what or
where Korea was Bob was to learn the next day that Congress had reinstated the
World War II national draft and would begin to supply soldiers for the new war
that was now labeled a “police action” by President Truman. He began to
contemplate his future and the grim reality that being drafted was a distinct
possibility. What would happen to his goals? What would happen if he was killed
or even worse maimed in combat? Would he have to kill someone?
lead to questioning the validity of the war and why Americans were in a place
that did not put any Americans in harm’s way, the thought of running to Canada
briefly entered his mind. Growing up in the family he had and the values that
his community held that risking one’s life, even dying, was a better way to
live with oneself than being forever disgraced as a coward and a draft dodger.
So the draft was the only real patriotic option, but if there was a way to beat
it, Bob knew he had to find it.
a failed attempt to get into the U.S. Naval Officer’s Candidate School in New
London, Connecticut he found himself in at reception in Fort Lewis, Washington
and then off to the Army’s Signal Corps Training School at San Luis Obispo,
California. On September 29, Bob began eight weeks of Basic Infantry Training
followed by eight more weeks of specialty training in communications. “I found
myself to be in excellent physical shape but failed to achieve the Army’s other
three objectives; weapons proficiency, military teamwork and adherence and respect
for military authority” (Brownbridge, 2013).
matter how much training on weapons and marksmanship he went through he could
not overcome his ineptness at using the weapons, “the M1 rifle, said to be a
soldier’s best friend, never befriended me.” (Brownbridge, 2013). Learning to work with others proved to
be a very task for Bob because of his resistance to cooperate with others.
Killing another person weighed so heavily on his conscience he applied
resistance to develop and foster any type of teamwork cohesion, he simply felt
“whether working separately or as part of a team I could not bring myself to work
with them so I simply practiced passive aggressive methods of personal
rebellion” (Brownbridge, 2013).
for military authority was simply drawn from his fear of how authority would be
used against him, “I obeyed, but not out of respect” (Brownbridge, 2013).
In one instance Bob had a run in with one of the training sergeants who,
during a weapons inspection informed him that his weapon was dirty, after
arguing that it was not his weekend pass was revoked and he was given seven
days of Kitchen Patrol (KP) with a stern follow on threat that additional
punitive actions may be taken to “correct” his insubordinate behavior. After
this encounter he learned that it was easier for him to just stay out the
sergeant’s way, and found that by not being noticed he quietly excelled, even
though he felt poorly prepared and ill equipped to serve in war.
Figure 1 Private Robert Brownbridge,
Basic Training Honor Guard January 1953.
Upon completion of Basic and Specialty training Bob
headed home to spend a few weeks with his family before heading to Korea. While
at home he spent the obligatory time with his parents but found himself looking
for his old girlfriends and the promiscuity that a soldier going to war can
hope to engage in. Time would speed by and Bob would give a heartfelt farewell
to his parents and silently contemplate whether he would ever see them again as
he watched them disappear as the train pulled away from the station.
embarked on a 21-day trip from Fort Mason on San Francisco Bay and arrived in
Yokohama, Japan. The inevitability of war loomed over him and he felt the first
pains of loneliness and fear. Bob had turned away from the church as a 15 year
old boy in Iowa soon found himself trying to remember those bible passages and
he repeats a popular proverb many of us who have seen combat remember “there
are no atheists in foxholes”.
Figure 2 Corporal Robert Brownbridge
July 27, 1953 Bob came out of his tents to the shouts of “The truce is signed,
The War is over, we’re going home” (Brownbridge, 2013). Although this news brought joy and
celebration to him and the troops around him, Bob was dealing with another
problem. A problem that moved slowly and like the enemy he had fought over the
years slowly tore at his well being and resolve. He was getting sick.
a sickness like a cold but a he knew something was wrong. He would pass out and
find himself waking up on the floor of his tent nauseous and tired and he was
having almost regular seizures. He went to the medic repeatedly only to be told
that it was exhaustion and he just needed to get some rest. As he was doing his discharge physical the
doctor found what he called a “corpus callosum, a body of nerve tissues that
lies between your two hemispheres,” he continued “is off center; it’s to the
left of where of where it should be” (Brownbridge, Into War with an Empty Gun, 2012) The doctor told Bob
that he was going to send him to Tokyo immediately.
went on to describe numerous tests done by the doctors that left him writhing
in pain and many times simply passing out because his body and mind would shut
down to “save me from simply giving up” (Brownbridge, 2013). Finally there came some results it was
found that he had a brain tumor. The doctors were amazed and commended him
several times for his work on the front lines of Korea even though he was
suffering from physical pain and regular seizures. After surgery Bob told me a
story that happened almost ten years after the surgery that would save his
attending college he was sitting in his apartment speaking with a friend and
his fiancé abut there upcoming wedding when her ten year old son sat on Bob’s
lap. He looked right into his eyes and he could see his gaze travel to the burr
on his forehead. “What’s that” he asked. Bob was caught by surprise because
nobody had ever been that bold before.
Danny, I was very sick once and the doctors looked inside my head” he said.
Danny sat back looked intently and said “Does it hurt?” I responded, “No, it
doesn’t Danny. Not anymore” With a satisfied look on his face , the boy declared,
“God took good care of you, didn’t he?”
told me his eyes moistened before he could manage to respond, “Yes….Yes, he
I could continue to write about Bob’s fascinating story while serving in Korea
and his fight and eventual successful win in his fight with cancer for the sake
of this post and brevity I will move onto the next section.
played various roles in Bob’s life. It was a defining factor in his family
dynamic as well as a forceful and visual way for him to show his individuality
and rebel. “Humanistic theories provide two foundational concepts for
transpersonal theory: self-actualization and self-transcendence” (Robbins, 2012). As a child around
12 years old, Bob began to develop and express his creative side. These actions
are seen in the definition of self-actualization which is “a natural inherent
tendency of people to express their innate potentials for love, creativity, and
spirituality” (Robbins, 2012). The strictness and the harsh
environment that he grew up in left him with little means to express his love for
the world and those around him. Bob related that the only time he ever hugged
his father was when he was leaving for war, that image is still ingrained in
his memories. Although he did not receive the conventional nurturing that
Maslow describes, Bob was able to find the necessary nurturing from other
people around him such as his Aunt who prompted him to have a world view as
well as encouraged him to write and paint. At his current stage in life Bob has
achieved a transegoic state of understanding that there is a larger purpose for
him in the world. This purpose is to help those who have seen war and suffer
from the environmental factors that block access to care, stigma associated
with care and community acceptance of a systemic problem.
Erickson’s stages of adult development, Bob has reached the generativity vs.
stagnation stage. In the generativity stage the person works on being
productive within society and essentially leaving behind a personal legacy. In
this stage typically people work within three domains: procreative domain,
productive domain and creative domain. In the procreative domain Bob is being a
mentor helping students such as myself who are working to get into the field of
work that he has been successful at for 40 years. His continued contributions
to the community of veterans here in Boise has been relentless are an example
of the creative domain. Another example of this domain is his current endeavor
to bring together various religious groups in a community outreach program that
will provide peer support for veterans suffering from substance abuse and
stage eight of Erickson’s adult development Ego Integrity vs. Despair “despair
is signified by a fear of one's own death, as well as the loss of
self-sufficiency, and of loved partners and friends” (Davis, 2013).
I am confident that from all that Bob has experienced with the war and
secondary illness that almost took his life his fear of death is very
negligible. During our interview he expressed “content that I have been blessed
with a life of accomplishments and experiences that I have been able to walk
away from” (Brownbridge, 2013). That does not mean that he does not
fear for the death of his wife or family members. I have seen in many combat
veterans after they return from war the feeling of contentment that life was
not swept away from them and that since they got to come home and some of their
buddies did not than living life to fullest carries a new meaning, it is the
feeling that to waste your time would be a dishonor to those who did not have
the choice whether they got to live theirs.
stages of adult life early adulthood
“ranges from about 17 to 45 this is the era of "greatest energy and
abundance and greatest contradiction and stress." It is the most
productive time of a person's life, during which one carves one's niche in the
adult world. The satisfactions can be rich, but the stresses can be
"crushing." "We incur heavy financial obligations when our
earning power is still relatively low," notes Levinson. Important choices
about marriage, family, and work are made before the person necessarily has enough
maturity to choose wisely” (Dewey, 2007).
During this phase of Bob’s life he had made the decision to move out of the
family home and attend college. Although he did not do very well his first year
due to “extracurricular” activities he was none the less able to begin to carve
his place into society. After seeing that he was not mature enough to handle a
big school Bob moved to a smaller school where he was more comfortable. After
being drafted into the Army he found himself back into a transitional
institution, he was away from his family but he was still under the control of
his training sergeant’s and those appointed over him in the platoon. He did not
have a dream per se but he did have immediate goals such as graduating from
college and entering the work force. This was cut short after he was drafted
into the Army and the imminent reality of death removed all hope to achieve any
goal he may have set for himself earlier.
Piaget’s Cognitive Theory age seven to eleven is referred to as the concrete
operational phase. This is a phase when “children can use logic, but tend to be
literalistic and abstract concepts are not easily understood” (Robbins, 2012). As mentioned before
at the age of eight Bob began to see the hypocritical side of his family when
behind closed doors. How they would smile at someone then talk behind their
backs. Bob was able to use this logic to know that just because someone was
black did not make them “not human”. This is because he became less egocentric
and better at conservation tasks meaning that he was able to understand that
although the appearance of something changes, the thing itself does not.
Theory of Faith Development in stage five states that “critical thinking allows
for developing one’s own personal beliefs and practices and the determination
of whether one remains in a traditional religious context or not takes place.
Another way to view this is “The adolescent also develop interpersonal
multi-perspective cognition's and begin to desire a personal relationship with
God in which they feel loved in a deep and comprehensive way” (Fowler, 2005). During this time
Bob decided to turn away from formal religion and turn away from the rules that
had been established by his family and those that were practiced by the members
of his community. Not because Bob did not believe in God but because he did not
understand the concept behind being a good Christian at church but a gossiper
and hypocrite behind doors. Bob stated during our interview his feeling on his
decision to leave the church “if you believe in god and have faith you should
have it all the time not just when someone is watching you” (Brownbridge, 2013). This belief would eventually evolve to
the present where he is an active member of his church community as well as a
strong proponent to faith based community services.
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Gun. Boise: CreateSpace Publications.
Brownbridge, R. (2013, March 20). (E. Hicks,
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Dewey, R. (2007, Jan 01). Stages of Life.
Retrieved from Intropsych:
Fowler, J. &. (2005). Stages of faith from infancy
through adolescence: Reflections on three decades of faith development
theory. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Robbins, S. P. (2012). Contemporary Human
Behavior. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc.
Thompson, R. (2013, 04 01). IMDb. Retrieved
from IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051383/
Zastrow, C. H. (2010). Understanding Human
Behavior and the Social Enviroment. Belmont: Cengage Learning.