The Foreign Service Journal - April 2016
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APRIL 2016



other positions into a limited non-

career appointment category.

New hires came in under that pro-

gram, but resistance both within and

outside of MED led to a cessation of the

practice after a few years.

Michael Nesemann

Regional Medical Manager

Consulate General Frankfurt

Mental Health Treatment:

The Faith Alternative



has not lost its willingness to

tackle delicate issues. This is evident from

the January-February issue focusing on

the supersensitive issue of mental health

in the Foreign Service.

In “Foreign Service Members Weigh In,” some members tell of how their con


ditions of service caused them psycho-

logical problems, support for which was

often not forthcoming.

These accounts confront us with some

of the harsher realities of the Foreign

Service life, and resonate with me. I, too,

experienced such conditions of service:

difficult and dangerous postings, small-

minded supervisors, a son’s mental ill-

ness, break-up of the family and eventual

mandatory retirement.

Yet I neither applied for psychological

treatment nor felt it would be desirable.

Perhaps I was aided by the links I discov-

ered between my Foreign Service experi-

ence and theology, which I describe in

my book (

Theology and the Disciplines of

the Foreign Service

, 2015).

If so, this leads to a further point. The

inability to find conventional treatment

within official structures is unfortunate.

But, sadly, even if found, such treatment

is not always successful; in my son’s case

it failed despite a years-long effort.

An alternative and potentially more

effective remedy lies in religious faith, with

its healing prayer, worship and fellowship.

Given the


s secular orientation, I

can understand why it did not feature this

approach. But should it not be noted?

Rev. Theodore L. Lewis

FSO, retired

Germantown, Maryland

The FS Profession Debate

As we start a new year, a few of us who

are Foreign Service officers serving at the

Foreign Service Institute want to weigh

in on articles that have appeared over

the course of the past year in the



elsewhere featuring commentary about

whether the U.S. Foreign Service consti-

tutes “a profession.”

Some commentators reached the con-

clusion that it does not, and a piece in the

October FSJ (“Working with the U.S. Mili- tary: 10 Things the Foreign Service Needs to Know,” by Ted Strickler) went so far as

to assert that the Foreign Service “could

be described as a pseudo-profession,

with elitism passing for professionalism.”

We disagree. Today’s Foreign Service

is increasingly professional and elite—as

we want America’s diplomats to be—but

not elitist.

The Foreign Service does reflect many

aspects of a profession, including its rigor-

ous entry process, peer-reviewed progres-

sion and training programs that provide

foreign affairs practitioners with the

knowledge, skills and attitudes they need

to perform at a professional standard.

We do agree, however, that the area

of “long-term learning” deserves further

attention, and we are happy to say that

this essential element of professionalism

is developing robustly at FSI.

Senior-level leaders across FSI are

working to tie lifelong learning more

clearly to professional advancement and

career opportunities. Foreign Service

education is an exciting field to work

in right now, as we collectively develop