Physical and Emotional Readiness

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

This week I passed my Navy Physical Fitness Assessment, or PFA. I did my weigh in and met my Body Composition Assessment or BCA, having lost eleven pounds since my last weigh-in on April 18th (and 17 since Memorial Day). I also did a lot better on the Physical Readiness Test completing 73 sit-ups and 51-push-ups while doing well enough on the stationary bike to get an overall score of excellent. Since I am 57 and a half years old that made my week. A lot of my success has been a combination of doing a much better job of my diet as well as disciplining myself to walk or run as much as I can nearly every day. On a bad day I typically walk at least six miles and most days I shoot for nine to ten miles or more, sometimes in combat boots.

Since Memorial Day I now keep track of my steps, distance, time, calories burned, and sleep on a Garmin Vivofit 3 device. That device and the Garmin app for my iPhone allow me to track my fitness better than I have in years. I highly recommend to any of my readers who struggle with keeping track of their weight and physical fitness to get a similar device from either Garmin or Fitbit. They do not cost that much and at least for me they challenge me to achieve my daily and weekly goals far more than anything else I have used in my life.

Anyway. I have been extremely busy at work, and since I struggle with sleep due to a combination of PTSD night terrors and recently diagnosed sleep apnea for which I will be fitted with a CPAP machine next week I am very pleased with my weight loss and overall physical fitness.

In normal times simply doing this for health would be a good enough reason to try to stay in shape, but as a military man I know that it has to be about more than that.

The fact that I am 57 years old and am getting raw scores better than people younger than me on the Physical Readiness Test makes me quite happy. I try my best to neither look or act my age, and most of my sailors, as well as many other officers and chaplains are surprised to find out just how old I am. In fact I am the oldest active duty Navy member on my base.

There are a couple of reasons I work so hard at this: first, I need to for the sake of my health, and second, because I believe that the President is going to lead us into a terrible war and that I could well end up back in harms way. If I am correct and that happens I need to ensure that I am in the best physical shape possible and make sure that I have more physical endurance than I had during my last combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I have served and trained on the Korean DMZ and I know that if war breaks out there it will be more terrible than anything seen since before I was born. Compared to it our wars in Vietnam and the Middle East will be child’s play and the cost in lives, and treasure will be appalling.

I have been to war and I hate war. I am scared to death of how cavalier President Trump seems about war when he engages in rhetorical games with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Likewise I am appalled to see how how unserious the majority of Americans are, including many in the military, about being prepared for the worst. I am and will always remain a critic of President Trump. I do not feel he has the moral character or emotion maturity to lead this country, but he is the President whether I like it or not. I could have retired from the military years ago, but I have felt that it was my place to continue to serve. I never anticipated a man like Donald Trump being President, but now I feel that I have to remain in order to care for my sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen when the war breaks out. I see it coming and I hate it. There are times that I want to retire, sell everything and move to Germany to get out of Trump’s America and to the disaster that he is leading us, but When I think of those young men and women who will be going into harms way I know that I have to remain. If I remain I have to be both physically and emotionally ready for the coming war.

Lieutenant General Hal Moore who fought in the Second World War, Korea, and Vietnam wrote:

“There’s never been a noble war except in the history books and propaganda movies. It’s a bloody, dirty, cruel, costly mistake in almost every case, as it was in this war that would end so badly. But the young soldiers can be and often are noble, selfless, and honorable. They don’t fight for a flag or a president or mom and apple pie. When it comes down to it they fight and die for each other, and that is reason enough for them, and for me.”

I would like to be wrong about it, but as a historian I see war coming, probably sooner rather than later, and because of that I am doing all that I can to ensure that I can be there for those young men and women who will be on the front lines. If war does not come I lose nothing. I will be in great physical shape and that will help me emotionally as well. That being said I cannot shake the feeling that President Trump is leading us to a military disaster and that many Americans, military and civilians, not to mention Koreans, Japanese, Chines, and others will die in the war that he and Kim Jong Un will bring upon the world. Judy and I talk about this reality. Recently she asked me if I would resign my commission or retire if war came. I told her that I couldn’t because I care too much about those young men and women who don’t need cheerleading chaplains, but chaplains who will be there for them when all else fails. Of course she knew that.

Frankly, I really do want to be wrong about this, but I can see it coming as plainly as I can see anything.

So until tomorrow.


Padre Steve+

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