On Government Shutdown - From the Foreign Service Perspective
By Lillian Wahl-Tuco, who is someone I admire, and whose important work I witnessed first hand and who makes me proud to live in America.
We don’t ask for much.
My fellow Foreign Service, Civil Service, military, and other government colleagues are some of the most hardworking, loyal, intelligent, individuals you will ever meet. We dutifully serve any administration that comes in, representing their new policy whims and decisions, reserving our personal opinions, and faithfully carry them out.
My Foreign Service colleagues serve in difficult places with and without our families by our side, in conflict zones, post-conflict zones, in hardship and danger, all around the globe- in areas that affect our health with poor air quality, poor quality of life, poor medical services- where our children move from school to school, take countless extra vaccines, and say goodbye to friends each time. Our spouses may or may not be able to work where we go. We miss birthdays, births, weddings, holidays, reunions, and funerals. We get evacuated and leave everything we own behind not knowing if we’ll ever see our stuff again. Making friends is hard and then leaving them is harder. Leaving family behind is even harder. We’ve lost colleagues due to violence, conflict, disease, and accidents because of our job.
As a proud Air Force brat, I knew what these sacrifices meant when I signed up because I proudly watched my father put a uniform on for our country every single day of my life until he retired after 26 years of service. I decided a long time ago to serve in this capacity because of men and women like him- who are also affected today.
We do all this not because we make millions of dollars. Most of us have advanced degrees and could be making much more than we ever will in government. And we don’t often complain about any of this. Why? Because we do this job out of a deep sense of patriotism and duty to our country. It’s why we serve. It’s why we love our jobs and we’re damn good at it. We speak multiple languages, we negotiate treaties, we report on political conflict, we advance economic interests, we issue visas and passports, we evacuate Americans in harm’s way, we manage public diplomacy programs and exchanges, we support senior officials, and countless other tasks you may never know as we represent our great nation.
So all we ask is quite simple.
Don’t forget to compensate our families for the work we do every day for our country. That’s all. Quite simple really. Don’t hold us hostage or as a pawn in your game. Grow up and negotiate, compromise. We’d honestly be done with this and have a deal if my FS and CS colleagues were handling the negotiations.
So let us get back to work and stop the bickering and blaming. It's counterproductive. You need us to go back to our jobs. Our nation needs us.