Page 9 - FSJ June 2012

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J U N E 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
9
replied that I didn’t know they were
my responsibility. The FSN lost his
temper and went to the personnel of-
ficer. Neither bothered to get my side
of the story or made any attempt to
train me. Instead, they gave me no
further work.
I was, in effect, fired in place; but
they kept my situation under wraps in
deference to my husband, the
“Gunny.” When my year was up, the
personnel officer hired someone else,
and I worked as a “floater” at the com-
missary and several other offices in the
embassy.
My experience as a PIT was toxic.
Yes, I was the gunny’s wife, but I was
also my own person with my own ca-
reer goals. I was as determined to get
ahead in DIA as my spouse was to ad-
vance in the Marine Corps. But rather
than being treated as a fellow fed, I
was shunned. As a career woman with
no children, I did not fit in; with one
exception, the wives at post were un-
employed homemakers. Most of
them were members of the “Silent
Generation.”
I’m now 60 years old, and this hap-
pened when I was in my early 30s.
Richard and I are still together and,
when he retires from the U.S. Postal
Service, we intend to move away from
Northern Virginia and start fresh else-
where. But my experience in Lagos
still weighs on my enthusiasm to so-
cialize and form new relationships.
Perhaps other young career
women will learn something from my
experience. I must say that I’m over-
joyed the “Silent Generation” is long
gone, and we Boomers are now in po-
sitions of authority. I can only hope
things will get better.
Eileen F. Roark
Woodbridge, Va.
The ADAMS Family
Your focus on family member em-
ployment in the April issue brought
back many memories, some fonder
than others. In 1990 I said goodbye to
Washington, D.C., and my six-figure
consulting business to follow my new
wife to New Delhi, making me one of
the earlier “male dependent spouses.”
Fortunately there were two other
male spouses at post, so together we
formed the Association of Dependent
American Male Spouses — the
ADAMS, if you’ll pardon the pun. I
no longer recall everything we did,
but I do remember how the Marines
answered our query about the obvi-
ous multitude of antennas on the em-
bassy roof: “
What
antennas?” We
also took a field trip to the First In-
ternational Conference on the Or-
gasm, conveniently held that year in
New Delhi.
But not everyone at the embassy
was so enlightened. During a senior
staff meeting, my wife suggested that
perhaps an upcoming invitation might
better read “and spouses” instead of
“and wives.” Apparently, a pin-drop
silence ensued, followed by an exas-
perated “Well, if you insist.”
I was “allowed” to join the Ameri-
can Women’s Association, but my sug-
gestion to update the name to the
American Spouses Association was
met with icy stares and strained
friendships. I still wonder what was so
threatening about either of those ob-
vious suggestions.
Hopefully these attitudes and be-
haviors have improved over the past
20 years. Male spouses and partners,
as much as female ones, deserve our
respect for the sacrifices and adjust-
ments they make for the sake of their
family’s service to the United States.
Michael Hendricks
Independent Consultant
Hood River, Ore.
How Times Have Changed
Shawn Zeller’s article in your April
issue describes the slow but steady
progress that has been made in recent
years on FS spousal employment. But
in noting how much remains to be
done, it reminded me of my own fam-
ily’s experience.
In 1958, I married an FSO who
had to resign her commission when I
was assigned to Warsaw, as regulations
required at that time. Writing to our
embassy there, I asked if a job could
be found for her, pointing out that she
was fluent in French and Spanish, and
was making good progress in Polish
from studying it on her own. (Within
six months of our arrival at post she
had mastered the language, and she
became similarly fluent in German
and Russian during my future assign-
ments in Vienna and Moscow.)
Several months after we got to
Warsaw, I found my letter in the em-
bassy files. Someone had written on it,
“Let her teach school.”
Yale Richmond
FSO, retired
Washington, D.C.
The Importance
of Family Planning
Your March focus on food security?
Thrilling. Considerable mention of
“integrated approaches”? Sensible.
Emphasis on agriculture? Essential.
Not one word from any of your
four experts about the key component
of family planning? Appalling.
Multiple studies over many years
have shown family planning to be the
most cost-effective and beneficial
public health effort in the last 60
years.
Fundamental to reducing hunger
and poverty, it is also the cheapest
way to minimize climate change, a
key component of conserving the en-
vironment, and critical to reducing
maternal and infant mortality.
Yet not one of one of your contrib-
utors even mentioned it.
I was thus greatly encouraged to
see the excellent article on the subject,
“Seven Billion and Counting,” in your
April issue. Bravo!
Sue H. Patterson
FSO, retired
Antigua, Guatemala