Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I was headed to a meeting the other day, just traveling down the highway when all of a sudden I had this feeling come over me.  Where am I? and that was followed quickly by, where am I going?  For the life of me, I had no idea.  For what was most likely only a few moments, I was lost.  My brain was in a complete freeze mode, but like I said, it didn't last long.  It was however, a scary feeling.  Ever had that happen to you?  This wasn't the first time it's ever come upon me and strangely enough I had someone tell me about a similar experience for them just days ago.  Something tells me we aren't the only two going through this.  

Hopefully, it's not the first stage of Alzheimer's, but if it is, we'll just have to deal with it.   For now, I'm going to chalk up the experience to brain overload.  That's the best excuse I can think of.  I think back about 11 months ago when the first of the sendoffs took place for the 2,800 Iowa National Guard troops.  Gosh, that seems like years ago.  Long.....years ago.  This time period has brought about changes in us all.  Some for the good and some not so good..   One thing for sure is, we are remarkably different than before.

Sgt. Brian Pfeiler comes to mind.  In early January, Sgt. Pfeiler became the first known casaulty among the deployed 2,800.  Jeff LaPage, father-in-law of Sgt. Pfeiler wrote a letter to President Obama that says so much about the character of our troops and their willingness to sacrifice.

President Barack Obama

January 17, 2011

Mr. President.

My son in law, Sgt Brian Pfeiler from Earlville Iowa who is attached to the 133rd Iowa National Guard station in Afghanistan was recently injured.  He stepped on a land mine while on patrol and lost the lower part of his right leg. This happened on 06 January.  He is now stateside recovering at Brooks AFB in San Antonio, Texas.  Please note that this is his 2nd deployment with his unit.  He previously served  in Iraq where he was also injured.  Brian is alive today because of the bravery of one man, Sgt Elijah Wright of Janesville Iowa who was along on patrol when Brian was injured.  Thanks to Sgt Wright's extreme heroism, his wife Katie and 3 year old daughter Madison will have been reunited with their husband and father.  I am writing to you because I would like to see Sgt Wright receive some kind of award, medal or recognition for his bravery in getting to Brian quickly and saving his life.  He is a brave and heroic young man and he is our angel. As Brian's father in law, I am forever in Sgt Wright's debt for what he has done and would like to see him recognized for what he did.

Regarding Brian.   He is recovering well physically from his injury.  But he has a deep sense of guilt for being injured and feels that he somehow let his unit down.   He also feels like he somehow failed in his duty.   In speaking with my daughter, his wife Katie, she says that he keeps apologizing as if he did something wrong.  Mr President, right now, Brian could use some words of encouragement.  Could you please let Brian know that he has nothing to apologize for and that he did not let his unit down?

Thank you Mr President,
Jeff LaPage

Could you Please let Brian know that he has nothing to apologize for?  That's was Mr. LaPage's request.  How about we all get on our hands and knees and pray for Brian because he has nothing to apologize for?  That should help in his healing process..... "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 18:4

Sgt. Pfeiler's humbleness in his duty, frankly, is not unusual.  We see it time and time again.  However, it's experiences like Brian's that will be a focal point for the returning troops.  Many will come home with guilt in the injuries they've sustained, the things they've seen and the things they've been asked to do, all in the Line of Duty.

Early this week we began hearing of soldiers embarking on a first leg of their return home.  Some have reached that destination while others are still in the "wait" mode.  It's time to put on a different hat and educate oneself in  helping make the reintegration process a successful one for you and your soldier.

While your soldier awaits orders, there is work to be done at home

On July 8th and 9th, my wife and I will be part of a panel at the "Parents of Soldier's Retreat" in Pella, Iowa.  Additional panelists will be Rosemary Giunta, mother of Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, Dale and Rhonda Jordal joined by Dan and Judy Merchant.  Each of us will bring a little something different to the table.  Chaplain Michael Crawford and the Third Reformed Church have worked together to put together a meeting that will focus on issues like, Expectations and Adjustments, "What will my soldier be like after....?"  and "A parent's concerns and how to deal with them".   You need to be parent of a soldier, but not necessarily an Iowa National Guard soldier to participate.  For more information contact Chaplain Michael Crawford at

Time will go quickly now so it's important to not sit idly by.  Look for meetings such as the one I described.  Call your local Family Readiness Group and get some information.  Be aware your knowledge and support will go along way in smoothing the transition process, not only for your soldier, but for you.  It's imperative to get headed in the right direction......TOGETHER.



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