The Foreign Service Journal - October 2016
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tion and data, reach conclusions and

recommend courses of action, but if one

cannot write clearly and persuasively to

convey the findings to decision-makers, it

is all for naught.

While the “total candidate” approach

may result in a “diverse, motivated and

productive workforce,” as the article

states, there appears to be a serious prob-

lem if the lack of writing skills is such that

BEX must seek better ways to measure

this important element.

It would have been interesting if the

article had been more explicit. Does

this phenomenon cut across all groups

entering the Foreign Service regardless of

socioeconomic background, educational

level, age, ethnicity, etc.? Is it a function

of millennials spending so much time on

social media that their writing skills have


In an effort to reach the department’s

goal of a diverse workforce, has BEX at

times been too quick to bring on board

some who, upon closer scrutiny, would

have been found to lack the qualities

(including writing skills) necessary for a

successful Foreign Service career?

One hopes that BEX comes up with

a method of evaluation that weeds out

those who don’t measure up, and that

the department will not have to resort to

remedial composition courses for incom-

ing officers.

William H. Barkell

FSO, retired

Arlington, Virginia

Life After the FS:

No Regrets

In the

“Life After the Foreign Service”

section of the July-August 2016 issue,

D. Thomas Longo Jr. lamented having

to retire “prematurely, and involuntarily,

for reasons unrelated to job perfor-


As I recall, since his retirement in

the early 1990s, Mr. Longo has repeat-

edly—every few years, at least—used the

pages of the


to complain about his

premature, involuntary, and by implica-

tion unfair, separation from the Foreign


In my own case, I mandatorily retired

in 1999 after my six-year FS-1 to FE-OC

window closed. At that point I had been

in the Foreign Service just under 25

years. Retirement was not a big deal for

me. I had no regrets. To use the military

pay-grade analogy, not every colonel gets

promoted to general. By 1999 I was ready

for a change in the pace and focus of my


My Foreign Service experience was

overwhelmingly interesting, positive and

beneficial. I wouldn’t trade it for any-

thing. But my life in retirement has been

enjoyable and fulfilling—and a lot less

stressful than my last couple of years in

the Service.

If I had to offer Mr. Longo (and oth-

ers involuntarily retired) a few words of

unsolicited advice, they would be: “Get

over it. Life


go on after the Foreign



Nicholas Stigliani

FSO, retired

Bellingham, Washington

American Foreign Service

Association Scholarships



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