- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2008

I achieved so much in my military career. I achieved much rank and numerous medals, commendations and accolades. I worked for the best fast-trackers and was one myself. After all of this, I am sorry to report that I lost my family in the process. After 27 years of service, my children don´t even know me. They are all young adults and have started families of their own. My wife divorced me about seven years ago. I thought it was OK because I always felt I was on my way to general officer. Now it doesn´t mean a thing. What do I do now, where do I go from here? I would really like to make amends with my children. To be honest, I would like to make amends with my wife, too, and find a way to work our way back into each other´s lives. I have made some stupid mistakes, and in retrospect, I was very selfish and self-centered. How can I make amends with my children and my ex-wife? Where do I start? Please print my letter because I know so many service members (especially men) who are headed for the same fate as me.

-Officer Not in Charge

Thank you so much for writing and for sharing your story. I think it took a lot of courage for you to take the time to write me. Yours is a familiar story.

I think you start with your children the same way you started your letter to me: You apologize and admit that you made some selfish mistakes. If you can have conversations with them by phone, then call them. If not, then write them a heartfelt letter. Let them know you are not trying to be intrusive as you know they have lives of their own. However, you are asking for forgiveness. I have found that children are very forgiving. Hopefully, they will find it in their hearts to try to begin again with you. Try writing loving and encouraging letters telling them you would like to be in their lives. Don´t be intrusive or act entitled.

Regarding your ex-wife, you could start in the same way: simply asking for forgiveness. Don´t move too fast just because she is not remarried or currently involved with anyone. Counseling always helps, and I would definitely suggest that you get some individual counseling if nothing else for support. If your children and ex-wife are accepting, then at the recommendation of your counselor I would invite them in for sessions. Check with your retirement health benefits to see what counseling services are covered. I hope things work out for you. Keep me posted!

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