Rebirth of Reason

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Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 2:15amSanction this postReply

Thank you for your service, Michael.

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Friday, September 22, 2017 - 7:52amSanction this postReply

Thanks, Luke. As we say, "It is an honor and a privilege to serve."  In the context of Objectivism, a lot could be said about this. I joined a military organization very late in life. (In Texas you can serve until you are 70, in Vermont, 80; but you have to exceed some minimal physical standards.) I was fully aware of all of the philosophical ins and outs of taking an oath of selfless service. The broadest explanation is that I chose to be available to help my neighbors because I can. 


I learned about the TXSG while on a project writing contracts for the Texas Division of Emergency Management. I had no idea that such an organization existed. I interviewed first a colonel and then the commanding general to learn about their requirements for computers, software, etc., and supplies that had to be purchased and stored such as meals-ready-to-eat (MREs). The American Red Cross manages shelters, but has nowhere near the labor force to staff them 24/7 for three to 30 days. As the TDEM project came to a close, I took a class in managing spontaneous volunteers. Spontaneous volunteers bring enthusiasm, but they can become "the disaster within the disaster." Most are unprepared to care for themselves; some are predators looking for opportunities. For that class, I brought the PowerPoint and training manual into conformance. (FEMA delivered different versions. I used the instructor's actual presentation as the standard.) After the class and after the project, I went looking for a VOAD, a Volunteer Organization Active at a Disaster.


Just about all of them are religion based, from the Baptist Family Services to the Church of Scientology. During Hurricane Sandy,  the Buddhist Tzu Chi Temple distributed about $1 million in $100 and $200 big box store cards. The Baptist Men and Methodist Men can make a million sandwiches for the Salvation Army to distribute. That's all well, fine, and good, but I would not fit in well with any of them. I looked for secular organizations, and found a couple -- ham radio and Internet emergency teams, etc. -- but could not make their schedules fit mine.  (After I joined the TXSG, I did earn a certificate with CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team. Every polity has one.)  My next project was to document some software upgrades for procurement and payables of the Texas Military Department.  Being at headquarters made it easy for me to find out more about their requirements and expectations. I walked over to the TXSG building and asked the first person I met how I could volunteer.  I was suddenly surrounded by a half a dozen new friends with stripes all up and down their sleeves.


I joined the Maritime Regiment, and was assigned to the headquarters command group and general staff to work in Plans and Future Operations.  I came in as an E-4, a petty officer third class, like an army corporal.  "Corporal? I have a master's degree." We have people coming here with Ph.D.s who want to be generals! So, OK, I get it... 


The TXSG provided me with training in disaster response and recovery, and a capable organization to work with. 


Only about a dozen states have their own defense forces. Generally, we are not issued weapons, and, absolutely, we cannot be sent overseas: we answer to our governors, not to the President.  When Hurricane Irma struck Florida, the people there were cautioned that it could take up to five days for government help to arrive.  Florida has no state guard. When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, even though the storm hit quickly, the TXSG was active and onsite within hours. A week later, the National Guard deployed and took over.

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