The Foreign Service Journal - May 2016
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MAY 2016



Protecting the

Career Path

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.

Roy Perrin


Deputy Consul General

Consulate General Erbil

Nontoxic Workplaces

If 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.

Bonnie Lincoln

FSO, retired

Fort Myers, Florida

Leadership Tips for All

I 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.”

Rosi Duenas

Foreign Service family member

Windhoek, Namibia

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

YouTube at

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.

Ambassador, retired

Sonoma, California

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