Positive Role Models For Our Younger Generation

July 23, 2008

Our Troops are an amazing group of men and women and I’m always completely blown away by their resilience and ability to adapt to any situation. Think about the number of deployments many of them have endured, think about the severe injuries many of them have had. Yet they continue to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, with many of them, standing out as shining examples, of why I’ve always said that our Troops are the ‘best of the best’ that America has to offer.

Even after they’ve completed their service in the Armed Forces, many of our Troops tend to continue to exemplify the morals, values and standards that they lived by in the military. They distinguish themselves in their civilian lives and continue to display professionalism, honesty and integrity in everything they do. Many of them, because of the skills and commitment, the morals and values that have become a part of them, are highly sought by civilian employers. There are so many veterans that I could give as examples.

Take Bob Kunkle for instance. Bob is a Vietnam era veteran, who was injured in the jungles of Vietnam. Now as a civilian, Bob continues to display the character that defined him as a Soldier, by sharing his skills as a martial artist, with young men and women, patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who are recuperating from war injuries. Bob has now expanded that mission even more, by starting to provide the same service to the men and women who are patients at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Bob doesn’t receive any financial compensation for his work with the wounded warriors. Instead, his “payment” is the self-satisfaction of knowing that he’s able to help the wounded warriors and perhaps help them to regain some of their self-confidence, despite their injuriese.

Or, how about David Bellavia? David returned from Iraq, after a harrowing hand to hand combat experience there and earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor and a Conspicuous Service Cross. David has also been nominated for the Medal of Honor. After his time in Iraq, David wrote a best selling book, entitled “House to House,” helped to found the Vets For Freedom group and works extensively on various causes in support of our Troops, including ensuring the public and our leaders in the nation’s capital are aware of the dangers of pulling our Troops from Iraq, before their mission is complete.

Or Marcus Luttrell? We’ve featured stories about Marcus quite a few times since his book, “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.” I can’t say enough about what Marcus has accomplished since he retired from the Navy SEALS and wrote his book. Marcus was later presented with the Navy Cross by President Bush. Marcus too is part of the Vets for Freedom group and has traveled with the group across the country, telling his story and advocating for the mission in Iraq. Marcus is currently working closely with producers on a movie based on his book. Marcus has plans to eventually go to medical school and become an emergency room physician.

“Mighty Joe” Beimfohr is another great example of the resiliency of our Troops, despite the challenges they’ve been dealt with in life. I met Joe at Walter Reed, in October 2005, a short time after he was injured in Iraq. Joe is a double leg amputee and he hasn’t allowed that to slow him down at all. That day in Walter Reed, Joe told me that his plans were to medically retire from the Army and then go to work for the VA, so that he can help other wounded warriors, as they transition from military life to civilian life. Joe has accomplished that and so much more. Joe is working for the VA in the Washington DC area. He also works closely with Bob Kunkle, teaching self defense tactics to wounded warriors.

Another great example is Major David Rozelle. If you recall, I’ve introduced our readers to him and used him as an example of how he inspires other wounded warriors to drive on and continue. Major Rozelle lost part of his leg when he was in Iraq with the 3rd ACR. Instead of allowing his injury to defeat him, he was determined to remain in the Army and return to Iraq. He did just that, remained in the Army and led his Soldiers on another mission in Iraq. But he’s accomplished so much more and is such an inspiration to so many of the wounded warriors. Major Rozelle has competed in numerous Iron Man competitions and running events around the country, including the Army 10 Miler. He was also instrumental in the building and design of the Army rehabilitation center at Walter Reed. Major Rozelle wrote about his experiences in his book, “Back in Action: An American Soldier’s Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude.”

These men and so many others have given so much to our country, yet they continue to “give” and don’t show any signs of giving up. Something that many of their civilian counterparts might have done under the same circumstances that these men faced. It’s these men and women that we should teach our children to hold in high esteem. It’s these men and women that we should teach our children to emulate. Men and women like this, are fine example of selfless service, sacrifice, dedication, and integrity. If you do a search on this blog, as well as other MilBlogs, you’ll find the stories of these men and many others who’ve proudly served our country in the Armed Forces. Believe me when I say, you’ll not walk away from their stories without being touched. These are the folks we should be encouraging our children to emulate, NOT the celebrities.

Instead, so often in our society, our children are taught that it’s okay to emulate and hold in high esteem, people such as Michael Vick, Snoop Doggy Dog, Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears and a myriad of other entertainment and sports celebrities, who always seem to be splashed across the media with details of the latest trouble they’ve gotten into. Yet somehow, we seem to think it’s okay for our children to idolize these people (I’ve never figured out why). Then we wonder why the values in our country have become so degraded. We often don’t spend quality time with our children, and instead allow the television, computer and video games, to be our children’s “babysitters” because we don’t want to spend the time we should with our kids. Then, we’re awfully quick to point our fingers at others when our children do wrong, be it their teachers, their peers ….. anyone but ourselves. Our children learn by the example they’re given, their parents and the values we instill upon them, the role models we have them emulate.

The men I’ve listed above are but a few of the men and women that our children should be taught about. The men and women that we should encourage our children to strive to be like. Perhaps, turn off the television, drag them away from the computer or their video games, and put one of the books mentioned above, in their hands. Have them read the books and learn about courage, bravery, pride and dedication in our country, and the will to survive and excel. Then take the time as a parent to sit down and discuss the book with your child. Discuss what makes these men such special people, as compared to the myriad of celebrities that our Society tells them to worship. Make sure that they understand what these men have did for them, their friends and our country and how their actions are honorable and admirable. I think that you just might be surprised and hopefully impressed with the changes you might see in your children.


3 Responses to “Positive Role Models For Our Younger Generation”

  1. Nancy Bruno on July 23rd, 2008 1:02 pm

    I have had the privilege of spending the last year with thirty five amazing men as part of The Genuine Men Project. Of those thirty five men, thirteen have served our country in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Active Duty, and now one of our young men is looking to enroll in West Point Academy. These men were asked to take part in this documentary project because of the way that they meet their challenges and carry their experiences. They are truly role models for us all to look to and learn from. The exhibition is now traveling throughout the United States to raise awareness of male role models, discussion of male stereotypes on university campuses, and for character education workshops for middle and high school students. Their stories can be found in Genuine Men, Journeys in Stories and Stills (Bridgeway, 2008)

  2. Terri on July 23rd, 2008 7:32 pm

    That sounds like a great program. I’m glad that there are some groups out there, that are being proactive in showing our youth, what a REAL role model is. Thanks for the info

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