Merry Christmas to you all today from our Impact Montana team. In the next several days I am going to reflect on the pillars that make up our organization, and the meaning behind them. But first we must lay the foundation for them by reflecting on this day ten years ago, and what is the beginning of why Impact Montana exists.

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the Christmas that two of our board members were in Iraq. My personal recollection of it was that I was very thankful for the month that we had left prior to being able to head home from the desert. After over a year of serving with the same soldiers and forging bonds with them it was also nice to have a day that was somewhat stress free and celebratory of the season. I had two small Christmas trees that were sent to me to display, and lots of pictures and cards and other support from my cousin’s church in Houston.

My deployment in the quartermaster company was not as intense as many of the deployments of other friends’ and cohorts; however, this does not change the fact that it was life changing and ultimately an experience that I can say has had significant influence on the years since. Not only did I take the deployment and use it as a positive and character building opportunity by getting into the best physical condition of my life, but I also managed to pay off a decent amount of debt that had been built up through going to school and simply not being financially accountable to myself. I relied heavily on my family for support as I emailed them as much as I could, sometimes on a daily basis. For the first time in my life I felt like I was contributing to something important, and there were times that I had thought about going full-time active duty because of this personal career satisfaction. Another important factor to my personal growth was the camaraderie that was built with my brothers and sisters in the unit. We build an incredible bond, some of which will never be broken. I suppose this is easy to do when you spend every minute of every day for fifteen months together (outside of when eyes were not open). Most significant though, was a new found spiritual dimension that had been neglected for the most part of my adult life. Living on a base that was next to the Ziggurat of Ur, the birthplace of Abraham, had a profound impact on truly digging deep in my soul for a reason for being, and determining my worth as a human being.

This morning as I was considering my deployment I made the connection to the significance of why the pillars that we focus on are so relevant. It is simply because they were all a huge part of my deployment in 2004. In our organizational documents, Emotional wellness is also listed as a pillar; yet we do not have any specific programs to devote to Emotional wellness. This is primarily because all of the listed pillars affect one’s emotional wellness. Emotional wellness can be manufactured no matter where one is, where they have been, or what they think the future might hold, and our Impact on Montana Service Members, Veterans, and Families is our way of helping reshape one’s/family emotional wellness.

Everything we do as an organization is tied back to helping develop the same type of comprehensive wellness that contributed to a successful deployment, but also as you will see in the next several days, a somewhat unsuccessful reintegration back to Montana. So as we embark on the last days of 2014 I invite you to read the daily Facebook blog on this page and learn more about our mission here in Montana. Thank you for taking the time to read this message, and again, Merry Christmas!