Quaker House supports the GI Rights Network through two hotline counselors, Steve Woolford and Lenore Yarger. To better understand my upcoming role in supporting them, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending the annual conference of the network last weekend.
An amazing and devoted group of people make up this network. They take calls from active-duty and reserve service members throughout the world as well as members of the National Guard. They know military regulations or how to find them or who to call.
It was renewing of spirit to witness how much they care about the people who need their help. These hotline counselors are scattered across the country, working a bit in physical isolation while in a virtual community, and on a limited budget. So, seeing them gathered together in person for workshops, coordination, and planning was special in its own right.
Unfortunately, I do not have photos of everyone, even between these two pictures.
99 days until this is part of my responsibilities full time. I cannot think of anything I would rather do.
Survival skills were called upon when lighters ran out.
I was always on this road, this road to Quaker House. I just did not know it.
I was raised in a military family — birth to mid-high school.
One of my original majors in college was International Relations, but it was eventually switched out for English and a minor in biology, partly due to scheduling issues and time constraints, of all things.
When I applied to law school, both times (I transferred from Seattle University to the University of North Carolina), I specifically wrote in my essays that I wanted to practice law assisting nonprofit organizations. And, as a member of the first 1L class to get to choose an elective seminar at Seattle, I chose Introduction to International Law with Professor Chinen — because I wanted to know how to help nations and peoples live in harmony.
After I took the bar and felt like it was finally the right time for me to invest in regular volunteer work, I chose the Red Cross. I had no idea, at that time, that the Red Cross would show up several times in my reading of A service of love in war time: American Friends relief work in Europe, 1917 – 1919 as vital facilitators of the Quaker efforts during World War I. And, I think my high school friends would get a kick out of the fact that one of the key Quaker organizers of this humanitarian work was Rufus Jones. He was from Maine.
But, wait. How did the Religious Society of Friends suddenly start factoring into my story?
Well, one Sunday, I visited a Quaker meeting, partly because I wanted to learn more about their Peace Testimony. Many religions espouse peace, but I wanted to see what a longstanding core theological principle of intentionally promoting peace among nations, in addition to in our personal behaviors, looked like. I was fortunate in that I already had a strong religious faith upon which to build.
That Quaker Meeting was Spring Friends and, to get there, my best path included a 10-mile stretch of Route 87 South. That stretch of road became a regular journey for me. Little did I know, it would also become a section of my path to Quaker House, both figuratively and literally.
I got the call at about 9:00 Saturday night that I had been selected to be the next director of Quaker House, to follow in the footsteps of amazing directors before me and to work alongside wonderful experienced staff and a dedicated board of directors. They have a smooth transition planned. I will be learning from their expertise and experience all summer long, and Lynn and Steve Newsom, the current directors, will not be leaving their work at Quaker House until September.
Answering calls and providing assistance as a significant component of the GI Rights Hotline.
Educating about moral injury and its treatment.
Providing free and confidential in-person counseling for members of the military community, including for issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and moral injury.
And, of course, advocating for a more peaceful world.
Quaker House assists our military members and families and works to promote world peace. It was established and is supported by a community of faith. My path brought me here. On one hand, it is not surprising.