[Vision2020] Ten Life Lessons

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu May 3 12:22:50 PDT 2007

>From "The Sand Box" at:


No truer words have been written.


Name: @WR
Posting date: 4/30/07
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: walterreed.blogspot.com
Email: snapshotdc at gmail.com

1. Always have a notepad, pen, watch, knife, and flashlight on hand.

In life, as in the Army, there are always unforeseen events. An important
note needs to be taken, you need the precise time, something needs to be
fixed, or you just can't find your way. All these items are small and cheap;
lifesavers when you have them, deal breakers when you don't.

2. Have a copy of everything. If it's important, have two copies.

If it has your name on it, then you need a copy. If it affects your health,
paycheck, or other element of well-being, then you need two copies. Records
get lost, computers crash, and sometimes people just need to see a piece of
80 bond under their noses to get anything done.

3. Make friends wherever you go.

It doesn't matter if you are there for 20 minutes or 20 months, make
friends. Inevitably, you will see them again. You will go to where they are.
They will go to where you will be. And at the end of the day friends are the
only ones covering the front of your position.

4. Make an SOP. Know the SOP. Work the SOP. 

Civilian. Military. It doesn't matter. There should be a Standard Operating
Procedure for daily life. Often we don't have fulfilling days or lives
because "we just don't have time" and that is because we often don't have
good processes. On the battlefield there is a place for everything, and
everything in its place. There is a rote routine (often personal) for
everything from showering in the morning to they way we check our gear. We
do this because often there are times when there is no time, but the task
still needs to get done. Routine accomplishes this, and we accomplish more
when we have a routine.

5. Sleep.

Sleep is one of the things in life we don't appreciate until we aren't
getting it. Sleep recharges us, heals us, and lets us put a new perspective
on the world. If it was bad when you went to sleep and it's still bad when
you wake up, well then I guess you weren't missing anything. If by chance
it's better when you wake up, then apparently the world doesn't rest upon
your shoulders. So take a nap, Atlas.

6. Don't go cheap.

I didn't grow up with money. I have learned to make due with what is
available. There are times, however, that you can't afford to go cheap.
Whether it be getting the brakes fixed on your HUMVEE or your Ford, get it
done, get it done by a professional, and get the warranty. If you are buying
shoes (speaking from personal experience) don't get them because they are
cheaper. Get them because they are comfortable and durable. If you don't,
it'll be more than your wallet that will hurt.

7. Find humor everywhere.

I have been in some pretty crappy places, some pretty crappy situations, and
yet forced myself to find some humor, somewhere. It helps you cope. It takes
the sting out of the painful, awkward, or otherwise difficult moments in
life. And humor is one of those conversations you can have with yourself,
because you always get your own jokes. As a side note, as much as it may
pain you, never ridicule someone for their dark sense of humor. We aren't
them and they aren't us, and we are all just trying to get by. I think Plato
put this in perspective best by saying, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is
fighting a harder battle."

8. Don't tolerate oppression.

To quote someone more intelligent than myself: "First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the
Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they
came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a
trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out
for me." Stand up for what you think is right. In the end if you were wrong,
so be it.

9. Tell your Story.

Battles are decided not only by the Soldiers on the field, the armament, or
the weather. They are also won and lost by the lessons learned from prior
battles. We learn these lessons because someone told their story. As a young
Soldier I was a sponge for knowledge; it was before the current age of mass
communication. Older Soldiers told their stories in hopes that a single
silver strand of wisdom would be gleaned and be passed on. It is part of
what we contribute to society. When we can glean wisdom from the lessons
others have learned, we can avoid repeating the hardships by which they
gained that knowledge. And by sharing our lessons we are helping someone
else. That is one of our greatest contributions to humanity.

10. Never forget.

Never forget who you are. Never forget what you have done. Never forget
where you are. Never forget what it is you want from this one life we have.
Never forget the people that stood behind you in support, beside you in
camaraderie, or in front of you in adversity. Never forget to write home.
Never forget that someone is missing you. Never forget what you have
learned. Never forget to share what you have learned. Never forget anything;
lest you forget everything.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"I was a soldier.
I am a soldier.
I will always be a soldier."

- Army Veteran Slogan 

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