A similar scenario played out in Canada. A very capable, popular young officer was heading up a capitol financial campaign in Vancouver, while his wife and small children were in Toronto. He had a heart attack, dying on the spot. The next morning the Personnel Secretary arrived at the quarter's doorstep and informed the widow that she was to pack up and leave as an officer couple would be taking possession the next day.
She was homeless, but was able to rent a one bedroom unfurnished apartment. The mother and the children slept on the floor, until the TC heard about it from some of her colleagues. He was outraged. Apparently, the TC had a discretionary fund, so he gave her a cheque and told her to go out and buy the furniture she needed.
Do I need to say there were no further promotions for the Personnel Secretary, he found himself in a dead end job. I can vouch for the truth of the story, because I heard it from the widow herself.The discussion of aftercare and consideration of our own reaction to resignations and terminations is the beginning of better transitions "away" from the Army.
____________________ Prior to my termination due to separation and divorce, I too needed to reach out more to fellow officers leaving the work. But busyness and awkwardness also kept me from always doing the right thing of keeping contact and offering support. The painful experience of being "cast out" has changed me entirely. Rather than seeing people through my former legalistic, judgmental lens, I see that true grace is practiced by enduring awkward situations to show love and choosing people as a priority. Grace should be offered to all whether terminated or some other situtaion beyond a person's control. This needs to apply to former officers, soldiers as well as former church going Christians.
As a former officer and current Presbyterian, I accept your challenge "to support, confort, confront and care for each other." I feel uniquely qualified to understand the painful and difficult transition from the Army. Thank you for the reminder to practice grace both to all types of "formers" as well as Army administration at every opportunity.
USA West, 'former' residing in California.
When three of William Booth's children decided that the SA was no longer for them, Booth cut them off completely. No contact, no love, no inheritance - they were even banned from family occasions such as funerals and weddings. Basically that sort of thinking is still ingrained on the Army's psyche. (USA former)
To leave the ranks was seen by Booth and Bramwell as an act of betrayal for which there could be no forgiveness and no way back. Sadly, things haven't changed much in 150 years.
I honestly think that Booth's refusal to forgive his own children was a heinous sin, and completely contrary to the "purity of heart" that he loved to preach. Christianity begins in the home, and for that reason, and some others, I think that Booth may have a bit of trouble on judgment day. (Former UK)
Somewhere in the Army history, some basic Christian principles were abandoned for the sake of organizational survival. Perhaps care and concern for officer personnel was never in the basic DNA of the Army - especially if we accept the premise presented that Booth totally alienated his own children. I suppose it becomes a matter of priority.
If we take liberty to apply the Scripture text, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also", it is quite obvious that the organization does not treasure its officer personnel as demonstrated by the lack of pastoral care to active officers. The excuse of being too busy is unacceptable. The problem is a mixed-up priority list, and a distinct focus on self-preservation, self-centeredness, and self-aggrandizement
(Former USA East)
Would the introduction of, or change to current practices in the following areas, help stem the loss of officers and the cost to TSA, and of eternal significance, the number of souls lost to the Kingdom through the loss of 50% of our Pastors and Teachers?
• A change in the current Sabbatical regulations (allow more often and with fewer restrictions)
• Allow leave-of-absence (up to 3 months) without pay after 5 years of service
• Allow officers greater say in the appointment process
• Appoint spouses to different appointments/commands
• Allow and support married Female officers to assume leadership roles even if deemed more responsible than the appointment held by the spouse
• Examine single spouse policy effect before abandoning it
• Introduce a sophisticated Mentorship program
• Encourage face-to-face encounters between those contemplating resignation and select ‘former’ officers
• Include a discussion session in officer councils focusing on the ‘cost of resignation’
• Include a session in officer councils focusing on single officer spouse with non-officer spouse as guest speaker
• Include non-officer spouses in officer councils; private sessions where they become familiar with what’s demanded of of officers and how they can ‘share in ministry’
• Re-establish an 'early resignation' policy to honor officers who have given a minimum of 25 years of unbroken service
I recently re-read the letter from THQ accepting our resignation. In it we were told of the Army’s appreciation for our 21 years of service, immediately followed by the perfunctory reminders that our healthcare would cease at the end of the month, to turn in our identification cards and not to in any way represent ourselves as SA Officers. Sadly there was nothing encouraging us to stay connected with the Army as potential soldiers, no offer of counsel or advice to assist in the financial, emotional, practical, and spiritual transition…no more,
If the Army says that it loves a person at the beginning of their officership, that love if genuine must follow them out of officership, or one must question its authenticity. (Former USA East)
COMMENTS LEFT ON THE FSAOF FACEBOOK SITE
For me, as a former, Facebook was the tool that allowed me to reconnect with so many of my Army friends - active officers, former officers, and Salvationists. It is sad, however, that the isolation I felt when I resigned as an officer was not filled by Salvation Army leaders pastoring me or just checking to see how I was doing. It took a social network called Facebook for me to begin the healing process and rediscover friends who really cared about me but had no idea where I was. I even found my favorite 9th grade Math teacher who had been such a mentor to me - what a blessing!-------
It took me almost two years to get spiritually connected again after resigning as a SA officer. And where did I find it ? Online; the Former SA Officers Fellowship. That is now my spiritual home and I'm thankful God led there.
Former US Central
Me too, if it hadn't been for 'formers' and Sven's specific pastoral ministry I hate to think where I would be. Why oh why, does 'The Army 'not care and leave it to a fellow former to pastor us and help us get our heads back in the right place. Sven, you will never know how much your being there (even though we have never met and possibly never will) means to me, and how much I believe that without you I was at real risk of loosing my sanity. You helped me to believe in God again, the SA, and myself. Thank you!
What have I missed? I'm a newcomer to this discussion alerted to it by a fellow officer. I know many ex-officers and some have spoken with me about this group, but I never realized that they represented such a large number of former officers, and from so many territories. Are our leaders blinded by the numbers, the sophistication, the wisdom, the unique insight, the growing strength, the pure resource that the fellowship offers? Am I to understand that no attempt has been made to enter dialogue? The recruitment and retention of officers is one of the most critical threats to our Army's future. Let's move out of our complacency and accept the fact that we don't always know best! An offer of help has been extended - We don't have the advantage of time on our side and need to accept this magnanimous gesture from a group that seemingly has all the answers at their fingertips.
Active SA Officer USA DHQ East
Within hours of handing in my resignation and officer showed up at the door of my quarters demanding the keys to the vehicle and giving me three days to vacate the quarters. I got a fax from THQ giving me slightly longer to vacate, but the car was gone that day. After that? Never again heard anything from the organization. "Cherished"? I rather think not.
I fear for the movement’s future. I would not go back: sadly, I think I could say that if I knew then what I knew now, I would have not gone in the first place. I do agree with the previous writer, I think we are past the critical point unless … and it is a big ask, and I do not believe the time of miracles are past, there is something that only the Almighty can do. The corresponding effort of those of us ‘here below’ will have to be herculean and courageous. I do sense there is a move afoot: there is something stirring that is enabling people to speak out. Forum such as this, energise and enthuse a far broader constituency than the group was established to resource as it deals with issues and approaches subjects that are dear to the hearts of many Salvationists who might feel that the organisation marches to a beat that is not quite the same as theirs. Pioneers rarely benefit, choosing to forge a path and create a circumstance for the betterment of those who follow in their wake. It could be that those who seek to make the biggest change succeed when they ensure that their children do not suffer the same organisational injustices and personal hurts as experienced by many of us. Grace has kept us and will continue to so. Let’s keep on, keeping on!
DW What an excellent post, It is obvious that in your leaving the Army lost the potential for great leadership.
You ask how such present leadership can be? I am sure you know the answer. Peter Drucker put it simply when he called it "The Peter Principle": "People rising to the level of their incompetence"! What an indictment you have made of the present leadership in Canada and Bermuda: how very sad. <)))><
Tuesday, 26 February, 2013
The jhierarchical structure i9s a problem because it's success depends totally on the smarts and goodness of the people at the top.
You'd think we might have learned from the RC church that church governance based on hierarchy of rank and position by its very nature is far more vulnerable to power abuse than a more democratic structure. We all know the pitfalls of democracy and the tyranny of the majority but even with it's pitfalls democracy has more accountability and is less vulnerable to power abuse.
TSA needed to change it's structure and governance system long ago. Its appointment and transfer system might have been a good place to have started.
Tuesday, 26 February, 2013
Sven Ljungholm said...
Drucker's 'Peter Principle' analysis can be applied to persons in any large organization, especially when their employees number in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, as in the case of the SA.
Four decades on Drucker says; "The Salvation Army is America's most effective charity" He gives the Army top marks for "clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication and putting money to maximum use. No other charity "even comes close." Can Drucker’s observations be applied to today’s Army officer leadership or is he referring to the overall achievements directed by advisory boards guided by successful corporate leaders and professional staff, rather than those in SA uniform?
And do accolades for its effectiveness in fund raising rest in the public’s long held nostalgic sentiment of 'hot coffee and donuts' in the trenches, coupled with today's slick PR campaigns and and media releases? ________
Tuesday, 26 February, 2013
Carrying on from the previous two references to the Peter Principle, some will be familiar with Rev. Richard Stazesky’s contributions in seeking reconciliation in the UMC during the turbulent segregation era. Here’s a brief outline of the characteristics of a highly effective leader as he illustrates Washington's genius as a leader in his roles as commander in chief of the Continental Army. (speech given in 2000) 'What can we learn from him and how can we identify the “Peters” … The visionary leader, first of all, has very clear, encompassing and far-reaching vision in regard to the cause or organization involved. This vision includes ideas and goals which remain constant no matter how long it takes to realize them and regardless of the difficulties which the leader encounters.
Furthermore, the leader never allows any of the means or actions along the way to violate or invalidate this vision and its constituent values. Secondly, the visionary leader is skillful in designing and creating an organizational culture which will make possible the attainment of the leader's vision and ideas. In fact, creating this organizational culture may be the most lasting contribution of the leader for it will consist of the enduring values, vision and beliefs that are shared by members of the organization. Thirdly, the visionary leader is also a person who can attract others to follow him/her in seeking attainment of the vision. But more than that, this charismatic person is able to instill in others the ideas, beliefs and values of the vision so that they become empowered to move beyond the leader's and their own expectations. In brief, the visionary leader has a vision into the far future, can develop an effective organization and can attract others to strive also for the attainment of his/her vision so that it becomes a shared vision and they all work together in an organization that sustains the vision, its beliefs and its values.' ________
Where and who are the ‘Peters’ who have violated and stifled actions and invalidated the Army’s vision and its constituent values? Former US West
Tuesday, 26 February, 2013
Just to add to the stories of ill-treatment of Officers - although slightly outside the main stream. My father-in-law was an Auxiliary-Captain in the then Salvation Army Assurance Society in the UK. A full-time appointment with provided quarters. He had a heart-attack and died very suddenly one morning at 5.50am.
At 10am that same day my mother-in-law, instantly and unexpectedly widowed and left with two youngish children, had a letter from the Area Superintendent containing a few trite words of condolence and a request that she vacate the premises as it was needed for the next appointee!
There is nothing new about the Army's callous treatment of Officers and their families.