Lesson Learned (September 9)


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragic attack on America. The world did not feel safe that 2001 day for Araceli, my physician wife, and me as we treated America’s combat veterans at the Clarksburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. As a board-certified psychiatrist and the medical director for the nation’s 2nd-most-enrolled Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder outpatient clinic, I watched the televisions in the waiting rooms with our patients. Then I took calls from our hardy Mountaineers who prepared for combat.

Three messages came through loud and clear:

1– Our decorated combat vets wanted to re-enlist to fight. They trusted their savvy to track down the enemy in Afghanistan or wherever in the world they hid.

2– Our combat veterans wanted to fight again so their children or grandchildren would not have to. They knew the risk as many neared age 55, which was a probable cut off for active duty.

3– Our combat veterans with PTSD had never stopped fighting the enemy. They were hyperaroused 100% of the time. In fact, when on a mission they felt more alive than anytime else.

After retiring from veterans health care but remembering our heroes making up my patient roster, I wanted to help us all be prepared. So honoring my combat veteran patients when I was elected to the Upshur County Schools Board of Education, I advocated for a leadership training program at Buckhannon-Upshur High School specifically for training up our youth who might yearn for a military career.

Students who participate in our Buckhannon-Upshur High School version of a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps take classes that focus on study skills, history, citizenship, military drills, and physical fitness, among many other things, and are taught by ex-military instructors. They get physical education credit toward graduation. These are the half-of-one-percent of our USA citizens who eventually become our military. These are the ones who defend our freedom.

Important to remember is that today’s military service is highly technical. Our weapons have computers internally just like our vehicles do. Drones are useful as weapons, too. There are many examples. Thus, the building of a new Buckhannon-Upshur Career Technical High School serves all of us well. In fact, I am strongly advocating for airplane mechanics and advanced electronics education. Some young Upshurite may be journeying through outer space to the Moon to mine the vast resources there. Perhaps other students will fly to Mars where manufacturing plants would synthesize miracle medicines to treat diseases like cancer or neurological deteriorating disorders.

In my heart of hearts, I and other visionaries will be looking back. We will trace the spark of ingenuity and American know-how to 9/11/2001, when the USA said we will ...

Never give up!

Never give up!

Never give up!

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