THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Thanks to Ambassador Barbara Ste-phenson for her March column (“Pro- tecting the Career Path”). Nice job!
I support her efforts to protect “the
Foreign Service from anything that erodes
this unique competitive advantage.”
I take great pride in telling people
that I am a Foreign Service officer, and
that pride has been a great motivator
throughout my 16-year career. Keep up
the good work.
Deputy Consul General
Consulate General Erbil
Nontoxic WorkplacesIf Morgan Liddick’s March letter to the editor is right in saying that th
vision of the Foreign Service as a “col-
legial service of intelligent, creative
people working together” is inaccurate,
then neither do I recognize it as a “toxic
Our working environments are all dif-
ferent, and given the assignment process
we usually don’t get to choose our supe-
riors or they us. Yet most of my supervi-
sors were supportive, wrote reasonably
constructive EERs and focused on getting
the job done.
I did not expect (or get) constant
expressions of appreciation for doing my
job or worry about petty office intrigues
(yes, there were some). Differences with
my bosses were usually aired—and then
we moved on.Also, thank you for the March articles on women in the Foreign Service. Things
have improved a lot in recent decades,
but sexism isn’t dead yet.
Fort Myers, Florida
Leadership Tips for AllI found Erin Soto’s March article, “Ten Leadership Tips for Aspiring Women,”
packed with wise career recommenda-
tions for both women and men.
However, I believe that addressing it
specifically to women perpetuates the
gender differences that the Foreign Ser-
vice is trying to eliminate as if, somehow,
men do not need the advice.
Amore inclusive title would have been
better, something like, “Ten Leadership
Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.”
Foreign Service family member
Mental Health Care
I read with interest Dr. SamThielman’s
article in the January-February
,“The Evolution of State’s Mental Health Services.” He is correct that the overseas
programbegan in Kabul in 1974 with the
assignment of Dr. RichardWestmaas, and
that the success of Dr. Westmaas’ work
there sparked the inauguration of the
regional mental health program.
But Dr. Thielman does not mention the
originator of the program, Dr. Frank Pet-
tinga. He was assigned to Kabul in 1973 as
the medical officer serving a large official
American family of more than 600 people,
including men, women and children.
I was then our ambassador there, and
Dr. Pettinga asked me if I would support
his plea to the State Department that
a mental health specialist be posted to
Kabul to help with the plethora of mental
health issues facing this community.
We had a good discussion that resulted
in his sending his recommendation to
Washington with my support. Dr. West-
maas’ assignment was the result.
Frank Pettinga had a distinguished
Foreign Service career, including as direc-
tor of State’s Bureau of Medical Services.
In 1979, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
presided over a ceremony at the State
Department celebrating the newmental
health program, which can be viewed on
I should add that another wonderful
consequence of Dr. Westmaas’ assign-
ment to Afghanistan was that his daughter
and my son, classmates at the American
International School of Kabul, met there
and a few years later married.
Dr. Westmaas died on April 2, 2016, at
his home in Cadillac, Michigan.
Theodore L. Eliot Jr.
Remembering Sam Lewis
It is an unusual honor, indeed, when a
retired American ambassador is praised
by a constituent of the country in which
he served, as my friend Sam Lewis was
praised in the January-February
by Israeli professor Yoav Tenembaum
(“Samuel Lewis in Israel, 1977-1985
But then Israel is an unusual country
for American diplomats, and Israelis have
a longer memory than many others.
I served under Walworth “Wally”
Barbour, the longest-serving American
ambassador to Israel, in the mid-1960s.
Barbour stayed for 11 years, but Sam
Lewis’ eight are still an amazing stretch.
I remember Sam as the strongest stu-
dent in our class at Johns Hopkins School
for Advanced International Studies in the
early 1950s. He made it clear in his oral
history interview that he actively sought
assignments (e.g., in USAID economic
development) that would prepare him for
a wider role in diplomacy.
On one such occasion, after I had
returned frommy service in Israel, he
askedme to include him in a lunch so that
he couldmeet someone then working on