The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire life believing the only perspective that matters is their own.
– Doug Baldwin
This past month has been difficult – very difficult. As I write this, we recently learned of the 13 deaths in Afghanistan, the Delta variant is running rampant, we just got hit by Hurricane Ida, and homes are still being destroyed by the fires on the West Coast.
I was actually supposed to write about a completely different topic this month, but I couldn’t bring myself to ignore the current state of our world. The intent of this article isn’t to bring upon more doom and gloom, but rather share my perspective and how it changed within a matter of days.
When we first began our withdrawal from Afghanistan, many service men and women and American citizens were dealing with a lot of emotions: anger, sadness, betrayal and guilt, just to name a few. I kind of understood why they felt that way, but I couldn’t 100% empathize. While I deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, I never deployed to Afghanistan so my initial perspective was that we needed to reduce our footprint in the region in order to shift our focus toward the emerging threat of Russia and China.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with the boss, Lt. Gen. Scobee, who shared his experience during one of his many combat deployments, that I started to understand a little more. As the commander during one deployment, his job was to protect all individuals on the base at all costs.
Unfortunately, the price of battle meant he had to send several fallen Americans back home to devastated families. As he recounted his story, he was visibly choked up. I could tell this weighed heavily on him. This opened my eyes to a different perspective.
I was down at AFRC headquarters when I learned of the attack on the Kabul Airport. A day or two later, I learned one of the 13 Americans killed in the attack, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, was the son of two of my coworkers back home. This made the situation very real and my heart ached for the Lopez family, along with other families who lost loved ones during the attack. Again, my perspective changed.
I recently read the viral, social media post written by Sergeant Mallory Harrison, Sergeant Nicole Gee’s roommate, friend and co-worker. Sergeant Gee was killed in the Kabul attack. She explained how her generation of Marines have been told war stories by Iraq/Afghan vets, but never understood their perspective because they never deployed to that area of responsibility or even fought in a war. Unfortunately, it hit home when her roommate and best friend lost her life trying to save and evacuate so many others. I think that post helped people understand her and many others’ perspective a little more.
I share this to illustrate how important it is to talk about what you are going through and feeling, not only because it will help you with your situation, but also because it helps others understand a different perspective. People only know, experience and see the world through their own lens. It’s not malicious, it’s not on purpose, it’s just human nature. We can only get better by listening to other perspectives, sharing yours and hopefully getting one step closer to seeing another point of view.
We are dealing with a lot right now. COVID, natural disasters, illness, financial struggles, you name it…but we are resilient. Regardless of rank or position, how you treat and interact with people can and does make a difference. Please take the time to listen, be kind, courteous and forgiving as you go about your day, because you never know what someone else may be going through. Perspective is everything.
As always, it’s an honor and privilege serving as your command chief. Please share your perspective with me at