The sad and disturbing news of the day is the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three of the embassy staff due to an attack from Islamist militants. Having just completed a trip to Israel on a grant from the State Department designed to advance public diplomacy, I have a fresh appreciation for the foreign service and career staff that serve our country in posts around the world – sometimes at great risk to their lives.
In fact, the Foreign Service website doesn’t mince words in it’s description of their diplomatic mission (bold text is my emphasis):
A career with the Foreign Service may appear glamorous: worldwide travel, government-paid housing, generous pay and benefits. In some instances, though, working as a Foreign Service Officer can be very challenging and sometimes dangerous. During this career you can expect to be assigned to hardship posts. These posts can be in remote locations, without many U.S.- style amenities; there can be sporadic power outages, unreliable internet service etc. Health and sanitation standards can be below U.S. standards. Some assignments are “unaccompanied,” which means family members may not travel to the post with you.
That’s why it takes a special type of person to represent America abroad, to advance diplomatic initiatives to the benefit of both the U.S. and the host country. Serving as a U.S. diplomat requires fortitude, flexibility, the ability to adapt to changing situations, and cultures other than your own.
When hiring Foreign Service Officers, we look for motivated individuals with sound judgment and leadership abilities who can retain their composure in times of great stress — or even dire situations, like a military coup or a major environmental disaster.
The Foreign Service is not for the faint of heart. In fact, in some cases it requires courage and commitment that rivals the service and sacrifice given to our nation by military, safety, security and law enforcement personnel.
Will you join me in thanking all of those who serve our country in our embassies and posts around the world?
Have you served in this capacity or are you serving now? Please share your story.
Do you know people who have served in this capacity? Give them a shout out to honor their important work.