Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Day 314 - Thank God, It Ain't Necessarily So

Ask Dr. Bruce Lipton if perception is reality, and you’ll get a scientifically resounding Yes.

Former medical school professor at the University of Wisconsin and research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine, Lipton has written a new book, The Biology of Belief.

After a lifetime of research examining the molecular mechanisms by which cells process information, Lipton proves that genes do not, in fact, control our behavior. Instead, he purports, genes are turned on and off by influences outside the cell. These influences include perceptions and beliefs.

In layman’s language, Lipton’s research shows how beliefs — true or false, positive or negative — affect genetic activity and actually alter our genetic code. In other words, how perception affects reality.

So what?

So what difference does it make to the men and women with boots on the ground in Iraq if the preponderance of mainstream media focuses on seemingly hopeless causes and a growing lack of support for the mission to help Iraq establish democracy?

For one thing, it ain’t necessarily so, at least not to the more than 500 soldiers assigned or attached to the 155th Brigade Combat team who have already re-enlisted during their tour with Iraqi Freedom III.

Not according to Marine Corporal Stan Mayer, either, who says Iraq is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transformed from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies.

"We know we made a positive difference," says Cpl. Jeff Schuller of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, who spent all but one week of his eight-month tour with Mayer. "I can't say at what level, but I know that where we were, we made it better than it was when we got there.”

"You really start to believe that you protect the innocent," says Schuller, speaking of children who learned to trust the Marines. "It sounds like a stupid cliché...."

"But it's not," adds Mayer. "You are in the service of others."

According to the report in today’s Christian Science Monitor, many positive stories never make it to print. These are the stories Mayer and Schuller and many like them want to share with the American people - and is also the source of their frustration. Eight months in Iraq changed their lives, and they believe it has changed the lives of the Iraqis they met as well.

Whether or not these notes of grace and kindness are as influential as the dirge of war is open to question, the story concludes. But many in the military feel that they should at least be a part of the conversation.

We agree.

Proud Thanks

Across the world, in far off lands,
On heaving seas, on desert sands,
You serve our flag, you guard, you fight,
Make despots quake and fear our might.
You show the world a fearsome face,
But do it with a noble grace.
The same steel fists that man the guns,
Unfold in kindness to little ones.

How can you warriors fight through the night,
Then hand out food when comes the light?
Unlike other armies, you American G.I.’s
Are not viewed with fear by civilian eyes.

Other nations see this and are amazed
Not us, we know it’s how you’re raised.
Wherever you serve, the world can see,
You’re the fine result of our democracy.

On this day of grace we send our prayer,
And give proud thanks to you everywhere.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66