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10

DECEMBER 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

LETTERS

The Air We Breathe

Both articles on air pollution in the

October issue of

The Foreign Service

Journal

really hit home. I am a retired

FSO and served with my family in two

posts where we were exposed to high

levels of environmental pollutants

(Ankara and Sofia). I also served in Hel-

sinki, where many of us lived in homes

with documented high levels of radon.

I was diagnosed with idiopathic pul-

monary fibrosis (IPF) two years ago, and

a recent scan indicates that the disease

is progressing. IPF is an ultimately fatal

disease; “idiopathic” means there is no

way of knowing exactly what caused it.

In my case, environmental pollutants

would be a good guess, because X-rays

and scans show particulate matter scat-

tered throughout my lungs. Coinciden-

tally, I live close to another FSO who

also served in Ankara and has also been

diagnosed with IPF. Clearly, we both

wish these articles had been written 30

years ago.

In

“Living with Air Pollution

,” Nicole

Schaefer-McDaniel made a number

of good suggestions on how to reduce

the dangers of air pollution and

provided some great air

pollution resources.

Unfortunately, the

State Department’s Air

Pollution Working Group

seems to have overlooked

gathering health data from

Foreign Service retirees.

That’s surprising, because

many medical conditions

(like IPF) take years to

develop.

AFSA members and their families

deserve to know the medical condi-

tions, if any, our retirees and their fami-

lies are facing at a significantly higher

rate than the rest of the U.S. population.

If State is unwilling to conduct a retiree

medical survey, maybe AFSA should

consider doing it.

Outside of my immediate family, I

have not talked about my IPF diagnosis

publicly. But the threat of air pollution

to the health of Foreign Service families

is just too great for me to remain silent.

My apologies to Foreign Service friends

who are hearing about this for the first

time here.

Bill Burke

FSO, retired

Williamsburg, Virginia

Involuntary Separation

Revisited

I write in reference to the letter in the

October

Journal

by Mr. Nicholas Stigliani,

“Life After the FS: No Regrets,” that men-

tionedme ad hominem.

I’ve never met Mr. Stigliani, and he did

not contact me before sending his letter.

There is no indication that he knows or has

ever researched anything about the facts

of my and others’ involuntary-retirement

cases.

That Mr. Stigliani is content with having

been involuntarily separated from

the Service is great, and I wish him

well. But for him to go beyond

to lecture me and others invol-

untarily retired to “get over it” is

excessive.

As I andmany others recog-

nize, the policy of up-or-out is

problematical because it is sus-

ceptible to toomany other fac-

tors unrelated to performance.

These include such things as bud-

get strictures limiting promotion numbers;

legal pressures and policy choices related

to gender, minority and diversity prefer-

ences; and arbitrary conal-designations

and other decisions.

The upshot is that by forcing out num-

bers of otherwise fully qualified people,

up-or-out can and does collide withmerit

principles that are supposed to govern the

Foreign Service.

I do agree emphatically withMr.

Stigliani’s statement, “My Foreign Service

experience was overwhelmingly interest-

ing, positive and beneficial. I wouldn’t

trade it for anything.”

I make that same point strongly in talks

I give about the Service as a member of

AFSA’s Speakers Bureau. But I also point

out some of the challenges and perils of a

Foreign Service career, including but not

limited to up-or-out.

D. Thomas Longo Jr.

FS-1, retired

Lawrenceburg, Indiana

The Wende Museum

I would like to acquaint Foreign

Service colleagues with the Wende

Museum in Los Angeles, which has

become the foremost repository in the

United States, and perhaps the world,

for art and artifacts from the countries

of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.

The founder of the museum, Justin-

ian Jampol, was originally focused

on the German Democratic Republic

(hence the name). But the museum

has since expanded to cover the Soviet

Union and all the countries of the

Warsaw Pact in the post–World War II

period.

In 2014, the German Taschen Verlag

published a 10-pound coffee-table

book with 2,500 images of GDR art and

artifacts from the Wende collection

(

Beyond the Wall: Jenseits der Mauer

by

Justinian Jampol). A similar volume is

in preparation on their Hungarian col-

lection.

The museum also has amazing col-

lections of Soviet, Czech, Polish, Roma-

nian and other socialist realist art and