Not all fun travels and glamour

(Not that any of you were fooled and thought I was glamorous by any means.)

You have probably heard of the attack to a US Consulate vehicle in Pakistan, where thankfully no one got killed, only injured.  The State Department has a hard time getting funding year after year (the salary has been frozen for a few years now, and is rumored to continue), when the Department of Defense is all about supporting our troops and always gets the funding it needs (and it is so much bigger, our budget is nothing in comparison). 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t support our troops (hell yes, of course we should!), but people forget that before the military goes in, it’s the diplomats that are out there putting their lives at risk (and percentage-wise, more FSO’s been killed in the line of duty than military).  And when Obama promises to remove our troops from Iraq, who do you think is taking their places?  Yep, the Diplomatic Security and Foreign Service Officers of the State Department:  as troops leave, we go in.  Except most Americans don’t realize that once the American troops leave they get replaced by other Americans.

Sure, you read my blog and my life sounds like a blast – and I’m not going to lie, it really is! But we’re both away from family, our kids will grow up away from their grandparents and cousins, and we won’t always live in cool places like Manila and Rio de Janeiro (and I’m not going to lie, I know enough people that don’t like living in Manila, and I bet there are plenty that feel the same about Rio).

We know that sooner or later Karl will have to go on an unaccompanied tour (meaning he will spend a year away from me and our children, in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan or others).  And we might end up in countries with their own set of challenges (lack of good health care, unsafe, etc). 

If there’s an emergency (like what happened to Egypt or the earthquake/tsunami in Japan last year), I will get evacuated, with none of our belongings, and without being able to take our pets (a big problem now in this lifestyle).  Karl might even have to stay behind, depending on his position at the time.  Sometimes, those families evacuated don’t get to return, sometimes they do months later, though the officers always go back, and the family is forced to spend months apart.

Hopefully we’ll come out stronger at the end, and though this life can be a lot of fun, it is not without risks.

And if you think the attack in Pakistan is far away from my reality now, I have two friends who will be moving there soon with the State Department (one is just waiting for her visa and should be there any day now, the other is leaving Manila early next year for her training before heading that way).

Anyway, check out Digger’s post here.  She says it way better than I can.

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3 Comments

Filed under Foreign Service

3 responses to “Not all fun travels and glamour

  1. Pingback: And we all mourn today | Carla Runs the World

  2. jend420

    Whoa! I can’t say I reallly know what it is Karl does, so thanks for this bit of insight. And thanks for being honest about the risks you have to take on. I love your blog because half of me thinks your lifestyle would be so cool, but the other half would hate the moving around and unknowns too. But I never thought about Karl having to leave you for a year, or that you or he would be stationed in a high risk area either. yikes. You just enjoy these good times to the fullest while they’re good! And best of luck to staying away from the fray as long as possible!

    • Thanks, Jen! We’re good now in Manila and later in Rio de Janeiro, but I think his unaccompanied tour might very likely follow Rio. We’ll see…

      And if you’re curious about the lifestyle, you should check out http://www.state.gov/careers/ and read more about being a Foreign Service Officer (or a Specialist) — maybe even sign up for the test, you never know! There are risks involved, but a lot of fun exciting things as well!

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