The Patience of a Saint

I don’t participate in Facebook. Yes, I have a profile, but it has no information about me, and I have no “friends.” I use it to maintain a page that has my relevant office contact info, and I occasionally use it to research witness profiles for upcoming cases. Aside from that, I find it useless.

Lately, the Army embraced Facebook as a means of sharing information with family members and friends concerned about their soldier–especially on deployment or when in training. It has proven an overwhelming pain in their ass.

Colonel Charles Williams, the Garrison Commander at Fort Leonard Wood, maintains a Facebook presence. As Garrison Commander, he is like a mayor. He is overall responsible for all the fort’s infrastructure, buildings, water, roads, civilian employees, public relations, and special community events. To facilitate community discussion, he addresses comments directed at him. This is one that occurred 3 months ago. The topic: Starving Children. It begins with a letter from Cindi, a mom of a trainee in basic training.

I am having a really hard time with this. My son, your soldier, is a 17 year old growing boy. He writes about not getting enough food to eat. He stays so hungry he even dreams about eating. If I were to feed him at home in the same manner as FLW, I would be charged with child abuse and neglect. I have heard, if I send food to him, he’ll be made to eat it all at one sitting. I’m tempted to send it just so he can feel full for once. Please help me to understand the line of thinking and how starving a person will train them to be the best soldier they can be.

Oh my goodness. They are starving trainees! This is horrible. I hope COL Williams kicks someone’s ass.

Cindi,First, I need more information, name etc. so I can verify and get more information. Second, I can assure no Soldier will ever starve, many will gain weight with all they food they get, were it not for all the physical activity. Physical Fitness and Nutrition are both key aspects of Army Basic Combat Training, and we have lots of smart people who work on what is best for Soldiers in Training. He will be fine, he is a Soldier now, in the best resourced, best trained, best led Army on the planet. If you want me to check this out, I need a name, but I can assure, he is not starving… he just may want to eat more than is necessary.

That’s a good start. He wants the facts before he investigates, but perhaps Cindi will trust this Colonel with nearly 30 years of  Army experience. Plus, he is not actually in the chain of command for this young trainee. But, this is splitting hairs. I’m sure she’ll be fine with the assurances of a Colonel.

Nope, she wants to press the issue.

PFC Stelly, Caleb, C co 31st EN BN, Platoon 2. I do want you to know I appreciate everything you are doing for my son, your soldier. I am very proud to have him training at FLW and I know he is blessed to be there. I am just concerned about his ability to do his best if he is feeling hunger day and night. Anything I can do on my end to help you, let me know. Anything you can do to ease my mind and my heart would be greatly appreciated.

For those who don’t understand “Mom code,” this last message means “If you don’t get your shit together, I’m coming down there to Leonard Wood to whoop your ass.”

Colonel Williams does what he can to tame the fire.

I can assure, Soldier fitness and nutrition are a big deal for our Soldiers in Training. He will be just fine.

Oh, sure, Mr. Colonel Guy. We all know that you’re starving these poor children who arrive for basic training. It’s all a huge government conspiracy against the 17-25 year-old children that you abduct from their happy homes.

Cindi is getting ready to show you what real pain is, right, Cindi?

I did receive a couple of letters without any mention of food or being hungry. He says he loves it there. He has gained 15-17 pounds in 1 month. Thanks for doing a GREAT JOB of training our sons, your soldiers. Mom of PFC Stelly, Caleb.

What? He actually gained 15-17 pounds? What happened to the starving child, Cindi? What happened to your poor, starving waif?

Well, I’m sure she has no further requests of this man who is trying to run a large military installation with thousands of trainees and soldiers.

I would LOVE to see a picture of Caleb. Haven’t found any of his platoon. I’ve been talking with other family members of his platoon and his roommates. I even work with the girlfriend of one of his platoon members!! Small world.

She wants him to get a picture? Oh for crying out loud. I’m sure that her working with some soldier’s girlfriend was a huge day-brightener for this very busy man. Colonel William’s response:

Thank you.

No, Sir, thank you for putting up with this crap. Because of what you do, Ft. Leonard Wood runs well, and the commanders who are attempting to train Caleb are able to do so without worrying about stupid shit from his mom.

You have my respect. Permanently.





2 thoughts on “The Patience of a Saint

  1. This is almost as good as when the CG put his email address on the FLW homepage (not sure if it is still there now). When a spurned lover, angry mother, or misguided young lieutenant shot off an impromptu (and often incoherent) email that sounded ever so slightly legal – the OSJA would enjoy the opportunity to craft the response. Delightful.

    • I haven’t checked to see if his email is there. If so, I’m sure he received a few sternly-worded emails from Cindi about her poor, malnourished offspring.

      I love the way things work in the Commanding General’s (CG) office.

      CG Aide: “What do I do with this crazy letter from some Basic Trainee’s Mom?”
      CG Driver: “I don’t know. I know I don’t want it. I think I need to check the oil in the CG’s brand-new-government-provided SUV.”
      CG Aide: “I know, I’ll send it to JAG. They write stuff all the time.”
      CG Driver: “Great idea. I’ll drive it there and check out the 300 watt Bose system in the CG’s new ride.” (Note: At Fort Leonard Wood, the JAG Office is about 200 yards from the CG’s office).

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