Saturday, November 26, 2011


This was as down as I 've seen PV2 Pete.  I'm not sure if it was the frustrations he's felt on the unemployment thing lately.....or if it's heightened stress syndrome now that the Holidays are here.  Whatever it was.....he appeared tired and beat down.

Looking at him, I was afraid to ask the question of his welfare because I probably already knew the answer.  But I had too.  "How are things going Pete?, I forced out.  "Not so well, sir.  Last week I had some things that were starting to look up, but then they've all hit one snag or another.  One company that I was talking to just went silent. I thought we were getting close to a job offer and then nothing.  Another one's human resource department didn't return any of my phone calls after the company president forwarded my resume to them.  And the last one said they were going to put off moving on any job openings until Spring.  So, It's not looking to rosy", he offered.

"Pete, I know how you feel", I said.  "There aren't alot of words that I can say that will change the situation overnight, but I do know that you can't give up hope.  You are a talented young man and you have some great gifts that a company would be extremely fortunate to have.  Don't focus on the negative because your time will come", I suggested. 

As I said those last words to Pete, I began to feel like a hypocrite. How could I say such a thing?  Recently I went through much the same out of work situation he had.  I remember many days and nights of questioning and over analyzing every email and phone call that I placed that didn't return any positive results.  And I was telling him to stay hopeful? 

Our conversation lasted longer than any of our others.  It seemed Pete was needing someone to talk to and I was determined to stay as long as he needed me.  There was no other place of importance at that moment, that's for sure.  Pete told me of his faith struggle.  Remember he's pretty new to this relationship thing with God.   And in his words, "I feel like God isn't anywhere near me....and if he is, he sure isn't listening or seeing how bad things are right now for me.  I mean, can't he see how much I'm hurting.  Can't he feel my pain?  I'm beginning to wonder if this God-thing is the right thing for me.  Maybe I'm just not right for it.  You know?", he asked.

"Aaaah, yeah kinda, I do", I slowly answered back.  "Pete, some times things happen overnight and other times they don't. Heck, I don't know why.  But what I do know is that God loves you and you have a purpose for your life.  Your experiences will help someone, some time.  That's part of the process, I think.  About that same time Rick Warren's book jumped into my head.  Quickly I brought forth these words.  "Pete, there is a book written by a pastor from California called the "Purpose Driven Life".  I'm not sure if you're a reader or not, but this is one great book for what you're going through. "Tell me more", Pete inquired.  "Well look, I'm not always the best at describing things, so how about we google it", I said.   Here's what we found out.

"A Book by Rick Warren.  You are not an accident.  Even before the universe was created, God had you in mind, and he planned you for his purposes. These purposes will extend far beyond the few years you will spend on earth. You were made to last forever!  Self-help books often suggest that you try to discover the meaning and purpose of your life by looking within yourself, but Rick Warren says that is the wrong place to start.  You must begin with God, your Creator, and his reasons for creating you.  You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense".  "You should pick up a copy of it and see if it doesn't speak to you", I suggested.

A Big Message Book!!!

With that suggestive comment, Pete said okay, he'd check out the library for a copy and then we parted.....but  not for long.  We agreed to hook up again the first of next week.  Hopefully, I will see a renewed Pete and one with the beginning of a purpose to it all.  Because now, I've found a new purpose in my life.  Pete and Repeat.....Pete and Repeat.  Over and over again.

"Did you suffer so many things in vain, if indeed it was in vain".----Galatians 3:4




Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Just the other day, I received an email of another potential deployment for our family. This time it would be our middle son, Jonathan, that would be seeing some other part of the world.  Let's see.......Am I ready for this?  Probably not.  At least not today.  But fortunately, we have some time.  Seems like there are words to the effect that a solider has to be notified one year in advance before being deployed.   And that's good news.  Maybe I can begin to prepare........somewhat.

I thought you might like to see what a letter or notice of such says.  I will say, we don't know for sure if Jonathan will be going.  But more than likely he will, it just depends when.

Deployment seems like a never-ending Mission  

Message from the Commander
Families and friends of the 186th MP CO
From the Commander:
I trust that this communication finds you and your families in success and good health.  I recently attended the NOS + 60 conference, which stands for the Notification of Sourcing + 60 days.  Our unit was given our notification 60 days ago and now at this point the Army is giving the unit more information about what our unit will potentially be doing.  I say potentially because as always everything is subject to change but this is the best information we have at this point.
The 186th has been asked to provided 49 soldiers ready to deploy in November 2012 to support JTF-Bravo - with a Mobilization station of Ft. Bliss TX.  This will be as all deployments have been roughly 9 months on the ground with train up time a total of 12 months.  The 186th will also provide a 49 soldiers ready to deploy in July of 2013 as the replacements for the first 49 soldiers.  They will also mobilize out of
Ft. Bliss TX for the same length of time as the first rotation.  The Mission will be to provide force protection to the US Military Base in Honduras, which consists of an airfield as well as cantonment area.  Some
missions may involve leaving this base while aircraft conduct humanitarian missions such as delivering food or assisting with natural disasters. 
I think it is worth pointing out that the full time staff with my guidance has been preparing and planning for our upcoming training anticipating this type of mission, we should consider ourselves fortunate that we have many of the tools at home station to prepare the soldiers who will go forward to compete this mission.  We will not send one solider forward who is not fully trained and capable of completing the mission- I give you my word that I will personally give the final approval to each and every soldier who deploys. 
Over the next few months more information will come available and details will be added to the plan - I will continue to provide you families all of the answers that I can.  As always I encourage you to contact me if you have any specific questions I may answer for you.  This is the first of many steps we will take together on this journey from this point until every member of the 186th family is home.  I am honored and humbled by the sacrifices of soldiers every day, more so the sacrifices the family members make for this country and our freedom.  I offer my thanks, in hopes that it serves sufficient recompense for your service. 

John H. Mineart

I believe the Commander did a very good job in detailing what's going on now and what lies ahead. There will be many sleepless nights and days of worry headed into next November. 

 As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day, I have to show my appreciation for the 2,800 Iowa Soldiers who recently returned from Afghanistan.  My oldest son, Kris, was one of them.  They did a superb job in performing their mission duties.  One year ago, those soldiers weren't at the family dinner table.  None of us have to go through their absence in 2011.  But next year, we'll be back at it again.  Not another 2,800, but far too many.  

Corinthians 2:9 might say it best what I've discerned today. But, as it is written,"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived,what God has prepared for those who love him"--



Monday, November 14, 2011


Over the course of the last eighteen days, I've shared some insights into the mind and heart of a soldier who returned to Iowa this past July after nine months of deployment in Afghanistan.  His name, for purpose of confidentiality, is PV2 Pete.  During these times, almost three weeks now, I've grown to appreciate in a different manner, what my son went through.  And is going through.  Pete's been pretty forthright with me....and some of that is information that I can not and will not share.  It's just too personal and in some cases it's downright graphic.  What I have and will continue to share with you is the struggles he's had in coming back to "normal".   

Last week, Pete went to meet the Care Core Director at his church.  His need?  An ear, a person although not a counselor, that he could confide in.  By his assessments, it went about as well as he could have wished for.  He has plans for another get together later on this week. 

As Pete awaits that second meeting, he made an observation he wanted to share with me.  "Help can come in so many forms", he pronounced.  "I'd been looking for that home run, so to have everything fall in place.  Maybe even have someone supply all the answers at once.  Little did I realize what help looks like and when it will come.  Let's put it this way, my attitude, my approach, my understanding is far, far different than one week ago", he said.  "And", he said, "I have you to thank".  "Me", I responded.  "What did I say?" 

"Do you remember saying to me, that if someone asks to help and they don't know what to do, tell them to keep their eyes and ears open"?  "Yeah, sure do", I answered back.  "Well that piece of advice was the best  I ever could have gotten.  Not ten minutes after you told me that, I ran into an old high school buddy and the dialogue you laid out, took place.  I have a job interview tomorrow, thanks to you". 

Our conversation led me to think about the "help" process more.  And here's what I've come up with via some much needed HELP from Rick Boxx, an internationally recognized author.

Have you ever had a time in your life when someone took a moment to encourage you, or give you some needed advice?  Five or ten minutes of time invested in another person can seem insignificant to the one supplying the support; it may even seem like a bit of an imposition at the time.  But it could prove to be very significant-perhaps profoundly so-to the one on the receiving end.  An old friend, someone I had not seen or talked with for a long time, reminded me of this important reality at a gathering recently. 
This man, a fraternity brother of mine in college, and I-after years without contact, had an occasion to visit following the memorial service for a mutual friend.  This friend from the past made a point of pulling me aside to express how much he appreciated the assistance I had given him years before, at a time when he was going through a stressful and painful divorce.  "It was a very difficult time for me", he confided.  "I was confused and uncertain how the finances were going to work out.  You gave me advice that saved me a lot of heartache and money, more than you will ever know.  If you ever need anything, just call".

This conversation took me by surprise, primarily because in all honesty, I did not remember helping this friend-although I must have based on his comments.  How ironic, an event that was not even stored in my personal memory bank, but yet its impact had obviously been significant enough that years later he would recall it and feel compelled to bring it to my attention. 

It is interesting how moments that hold little meaning for us, may turn in be another person's salvation,  in one way or another.  In the workplace, we have countless opportunities for meaningful interaction.  We can choose to willingly and intentionally develop relationships, or we can pass by without caring for others.  I have found it a consistent and universal principle that when you invest yourself by giving time and energy into the lives of others, you will reap a bountiful harvest.   

Help can come when you least expect it

Proverbs 12:25 presents this powerful truth:  "Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad".  If you happen to observe someone who seems anxious, distraught or obviously burdened, try making a point to stop and pass along a kind word.  It doesn't have to be something profound; just a thought to let the other person know you care and that you are available to talk or help if needed.

I know we're but a mere three weeks into a relationship, Pete and I......but I'm beginning to wonder now, did God place Pete in my life or mine in his?  Hmmmmmmmm.




Thursday, November 10, 2011


"It was a beginning", PV2 Pete would say.  "That's as much as I can say, for now.  But it felt good.  I felt like I could talk to someone and they wouldn't freak out.....they wouldn't judge me and they wouldn't offer me some quick solution.  For the most part, he just listened, that alone was a big help".

So that's where we are today.  In Pete's words, it was the beginning.  "I was all revved up', he said.  "I had so much going on in my head and heart, I didn't know where to begin.  But somehow the words started coming out my mouth and it felt some sort of healing was beginning to take place". 

"I won't kid you, I wrestled with meeting the Care Core Director.  Especially after the initial feelings I had of being passed from one person to the next.  But I was glad I did.  I have some hope anyway.  I didn't have any of that before".

For all practical purposes, PV2 Pete is at the starting line.  Remember one week ago, the possibility of him making the meeting with his church's Care Core Director didn't look all that promising.  As Pete told me time and time again over the last several weeks, "this asking for help thing is alot more complicated than it looks.  You'd think you could say to someone, life sucks right now and I need you to help me, can you?  But so often people don't know they can help.  So they say, what can I do to help you....and I can't answer that for them".

As Pete was sharing those thoughts with me, I remembered back to a time when I had a similiar experience with friends and family.  I recall a friend saying, "I wish I had a million dollars so I could give it to you.  But I don't.  I'm retired now, so I don't know many people to network I can't be alot of help there either". With these memories stirring I turned to Pete and said this, "son, I know what you mean.  But when they say that give them an idea.  I'd say to them,  "keep your ears and eyes open, if that's all you can do.  Maybe someone will say something about somebody needing this or that.  It's not always about money, sometimes it's connecting with circumstances".       

Soon thereafter, PV2 Pete and I went our seperate ways.  I'm sure I had smirk on my face.  I couldn't help but feel joy for him.  You could see it in his eyes, his demeanor, his spirit.  He had begun to see some help come his way.  Little did either of us know, how soon more would come.

Hours later my cellphone rang.  It was Pete.  I could tell he had something he had to share right away.  "You won't believe this.  After talking to you I was starting to leave the church when I ran into an old high school buddy.  He was as shocked to see me as I was church , that is.  Anyhow, we started talking and one thing led to another.  I told him I was looking for work, but not having much luck".  And he said this....get this, "I wish I could help, but I don't know anyone that's hiring".  I said, "that's all right, just keep your ears and eyes open.  Maybe you can help that way.  Okay...get ready for this....not ten minutes ago, he called and said he had been at his small group and told them about me.  One person said, I know someone that is looking for a good reliable, honest person.  Have him call me.  Can you believe it?  I mean, is that awesome or what"?

"Good night Pete", I said.  "Have a good dream tonight, but before you do, say a prayer of thanks".  I truly felt I didn't need to say anymore.  I ddin't say those few words to brush Pete off.  Really.....nothing more needed to be said.    

As I hung up, my thoughts turned to Pete and how possible the journey could be for him now.  I laid in bed for the longest time thinking of a million things.  Again, I had a smile on my face.  Pete has hope and he is getting help.  Now, how complicated was that?

A hand is a a Helping Hand

I came across some words of testimony from Chuck Swindoll today as he reflected on his life and his journey.  Did he have help?  You tell me.......

"God has not only created each of us as distinct individuals, He also uses us in significant ways.  Just stop and think: Chances are you are where you are today because of the words or the writings or the personal influence of certain people.  I love to ask people how they became who they are.  When I do, they invariably speak of the influence or the encouragement of key people in their past.

I would be the first to affirm that fact.  When I look back across the landscape of my life, I am able to connect specific individuals to each crossroad and every milestone.  Some of them are people the world will never know, for they are relatively unknown to the general public.  But to me personally?  Absolutely vital.  And a few of them have remained my friends to this very day.  Each one has helped me clear a hurdle or handle a struggle, accomplish an objective or endure a trial and ultimately laugh again.  I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy".   

Next Up:  PV2 Pete's Continued Journey



Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We're a day away for PV2 Pete.  One day from connecting with a person who hopefully can offer some help, some direction and some love.  As I told you about last week, PV2 Pete was facing a decision about following through with a meeting he had arranged with his church support system.  He had, in his own words, been passed from one person to the next. He was frustrated and discouraged.   And he additionally felt, that the farther he was removed from getting his pastor's help, the farther he was from getting the proper understanding and help he needed. That was last week.

Since then, he's waged many a discussion in his head.  Should he go to the meeting with the care core person or not?.  His general impression is that the time he spent with that person might be further frustrating.  Or should he go back to the care core director and ask to meet with him?  After many agonizing days and nights, he placed a call to the director, who saying he understood PV2 Pete's feelings, agreed to meet.  So that's where we're at today.  Tomorrow (Wednesday), is when that connection takes place.  As the hours and minutes dwindle to tomorrow, Pete is two words, hopeful and guarded.   Alot is riding on this meeting.

And how did we get here?  Remember when PV2 Pete came back from Afghanistan, he felt like an outsider looking in.  Times had changed and everything was different.  He didn't really want to talk.....he just wanted to forget alot.  Over time, the not wanting to talk began to take its toll.  Then he started feeling like he couldn't talk to anyone....that people wouldn't understand what he had seen and what he had gone through.  Family and friends could tell Pete was becoming harder and harder to reach.  There wasn't alot of humor present in the old Pete and he was so, so serious.  From Pete's perspective, he recalls reaching out a number of times asking for help.  Was that reaching obvious?  Were the people at the other end of the request aware of what he was saying and asking?

As I talked to Pete, he admitted those attempts for help were somewhat lame on his part.  He had thrown out some little "testers" as he called them, to an old high school buddy and then to his older brother.  Each time he did though, those individuals were unaware of what he was saying.  "My asking went right over their heads", Pete would say.  "I didn't want to come right out and ask for help.  I tried to slide it into a conversation where they'd catch my thoughts.  And now you know how that went".

And that's where were at.  Hours away from a meeting that could and should alter Pete's life direction.  I pray for him today....and hopefully you will too.  But as I do, I can only think of all the other men and women who have sacrificed for us and who might be facing the same issues as PV2 Pete.  Or worse.  I think of a Job Fair that is being held in Des Moines, Iowa today to help the Heroes who have given of themselves.  How awesome is that?  And I think of Veterans Day coming upon us this Friday.  My gosh, it is beyond  comprehension the number of Americans that have given of themselves and their families....and all for US.

Who is your Face of War?
Yet, I keep coming back to PV2 Pete.  He has become the face, for me, of the Wars we fight each and every day.  He reminds me alot of my son....and if you have a son in the military.....he probably would you too.   That's why I'm rooting for Pete to get HELP.  My joy is to pray for you PV2 Pete.

"And whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son". ---John 14:13  

Up Next:  Results of the Meeting for PV2 Pete



Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's been almost two weeks since PV2 Pete reached out to his pastor and asked for help.  Already there were some frustrating things going on and Pete was getting anxious.  Really anxious.

If you remember back to the writing on October 27th, we introduced you to PV2 Pete who was one of the 2,800 Iowa National Guardsmen that had returned to the states from a year long deployment to Afghanistan.   His company returned in late July and he was at the 3 month mark in his reintegration to some sort of civilian life. 

It had taken Pete all of those three months to muster the courage to ask for help.  He'd resisted  urges to run, to hide and yes, to kill himself....that is, until he came face to face with the demons.  And according to Pete,  a good share of that is himself.  He came to realize if he was ever going to change, he'd have to ask for help and guidance.  So, he turned to his church and  pastor.   

When we talked this week, PV2 Pete sounded disappointed.  And that might be putting it mildly.  After the initial conversation with his pastor, the pastor connected with the care core director at the church.  Pete met with the care core director who in turn passed him on to a counselor of sorts at the church.  Pete was beginning to feel passed around like a hot potato.  When the counselor phoned Pete to set up a meeting it was becoming obvious a real match had not been made.  The counselor had never been in the service.....did not understand deployment, reintegration, the guilt of killing......a whole gamut of pieces that would have made Pete's experiences understandable and valid.  At least from Pete's perspective.  The two of them talked on the phone and set up a meeting time....another week down the road.  Today, Pete's not so sure he'll keep the appointment.  "I put myself out there", he said.  "I felt so good after I first talked with my pastor, but then as the days advanced on the calendar and little was done, I felt the negative thoughts overtake me again.  I'm not so sure I want to go through with this.  Frankly, I'm pissed.  I need help now....not weeks from now".  

As we talked further, I thought of the times I needed help.  I thought of those who truly caught on to you and wouldn't let you go.  They were a friend.....and if they weren't a friend, they were loyal in their work.  They wanted you to improve your situation whatever it was......relationship, work, financial or mental outlook.   And when I thought of those times, it was easy for me to be compassionate of what Pete was going through.  So, we prayed.  We prayed for help from the right people at the right time to help him right his situation. 

Work-wise hasn't been much better for our soldier.  He has had numerous people direct him here and there and each time he's come up without a job.  "I'm beginning to wonder if I fit in here anymore", he related.  "I want to get busy and go to work and feel good about life.....but it's been hard.  Nothing has really gone smoothly, that's for sure".  But at least he hasn't given up, yet.  Pete makes calls, send out resumes and connects with old classmates hoping something will stick.  "Patience", he said, is not a virtue, it's a necessity.  I'm hopeful I don't run out of it". 

Next week will be a crucial week for PV2 Pete.  At least, that's how he looks at it.  He'll have to decide if he should keep his appointment with the counselor.....and he'll have to decide if he needs to go somewhere else to find a job.  "I can't wait forever", he said.  "It's going to be a big week for me......I can use all the prayers anyone wants to throw my way". 

Finding One's Wings Can Mean Rising to the Challenge

I came acrosss a prayer we can all use, no matter what our situation.  But perhaps you can visualize a wounded warrior of sorts that needs some special acknowledgement today.  Here's a prayer from St. Theresa.

"May today be all that I need it to be.
May the peace of God and the freshness
of the Holy Spirit rest in my thoughts,
rule in my dreams and conquer all my fears.
May God manifest himself today in ways that
I have never experienced
May my joys be fulfilled, my dreams
become closer and my prayers be answered.
I pray that my faith enters a new height,
that my territory is enlarged and that
I make one step closer to my destiny
I pray for peace, health, happiness and
true and undying love for God".

Up Next:  A closer check on a crucial upcoming week for PV2 Pete.