Who Wants The Best Quaker Job There Is?
When I started as Director of Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg, my main task was to get ready for a big war.
The U.S. was already fighting in Afghanistan, and the buildup for an invasion of Iraq was well underway. We could hear the war machine cranking up among the many units at Fort Bragg — some visible, like the 82nd Airborne, and many invisible, Special Forces units we weren’t supposed to know about — not to mention gathering hordes of “contractors”, a euphemism for mercenaries.
That big war would mean, we figured, lots of antiwar protests to join in and even organize. And likely a jump in calls to our GI Hotline, from soldiers and family members who didn’t believe that misguided, illegal, downright stupid war was what they had signed up for. And more, stuff we couldn’t yet see.
Sure enough, the big war came, and the cascade of calls. And yes, there was more to it than what we had foreseen: “PTSD” was an acronym that was new, though of course the destructive impact of war on soldiers & families was not. But with returning troops arrived awful cases of abuse and even spousal murders. Domestic violence hadn’t been on our radar at first; but it was soon there.
And then by 2005 came revelations about a U.S. torture program. (Hardly anybody remembers, or cares, but torture was — and still is–illegal under U.S. federal law. ) Further, evidence soon came in showing that Fort Bragg and North Carolina has many concrete connections to this program.
So I was pretty busy during my time there, even in the last few of my eleven years, as the big war was, we thought, winding down. It was soon clear that the new administration was trading one big visible war for a growing number of smaller, mostly hidden ones. Fort Bragg was all in on those too; they even started building a drone base somewhere out in its 200-square miles of mostly pine-covered land.
Today, as Quaker House begins the search for a new Director (or Co-Directors), the situation is in many ways different from my time, which ended in 2012: currently there are more small wars, and they’re almost entirely invisible to the public. And the public is grateful not to see them — which is to say, there’s no significant anti-war “movement” anymore. Hasn’t been for years.
But there’s still plenty of work for Quaker House to do. Troops come back from secret combat as much subject to PTSD as they do from big open battles. And a steady succession of them still begin to question this war business, and call Quaker House for information and help. Young people are still being swept up from mostly poorer communities, to fill the ranks, and the VA hospital beds, and the coffins.
Plus, there’s still the unexpected. Next year there will be a new administration. And the talk of new big wars is in the air, from every side; where or when isn’t clear, but the urge to strike out at somebody is definitely there.
For our purpose here, all this adds up to steady work for Quaker House. It’s the only concrete Quaker peace project next to a major military base: it’s where the rubber of talk about “peace witness” meets the road travelled every day by the war machine.
And one other thing the American public seems happy not to notice is that the war machine is still growing. Quaker House organized a conference in 2011 to mark the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s warning about the burgeoning growth of what he dubbed the “military industrial complex.” Ike was prophetic: it had kept on burgeoning for that half-century since then.
And it’s still burgeoning, bigger now than then, despite whatever you’ve read or been told about “winding down.” Militarism is as American as apple pie; even more so.
The current Quaker House Co-Directors, Steve & Lynn Newsom, have been plenty busy too. And they’ll be retiring in late 2017. So it’s time to find their successors.
I say this is the best, most real job in Quakerdom: the testimony is real, and applied in real time. The job calls for a wide range of skills; you can stretch and will be stretched; the stakes are high. The connections to Quakers are real too. If you think you’ve got religion, you’ll be putting it to use. There’s nothing else like it.
And Quaker House is not a fly-by-night, Society of Trends activist fad. The next Director gets to oversee –and celebrate– its 50th anniversary.
And did I mention that the pay is good too? (Though, to be plain, the Director has to make sure the budget gets raised so she/he has that generous paycheck. Which in my book is another way of keeping it real.) Plus free rent and utilities in a darn nice house (all tax-free “income”), in what’s long been a safe neighborhood; and health insurance.
But it’s not a job for the faint of heart, the dilettante, or the unimaginative.
I’ve copied the official flyer from the Search Committee below. Look it over. If it’s not for you, pass it on. If the Peace Testimony means anything to you, this job needs to be filled right. You can help.
Opportunity: Director of Quaker House
Quaker House, a landmark Friends peace witness, is seeking a Director to continue an active program promoting peace and non-violence. It is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of F.t Bragg, a major US military base.
Duties include: develop new programs to meet changing conditions; collaborate with Quakers, other churches and peace groups, extensive visitation among Friends and others; conduct fundraising, including fund appeals, soliciting and managing contributions from individuals or groups; supervise GI Rights Hotline counselors, Domestic Violence in the Military Counseling Program and administrative staff; counsel military personnel on conscience and discharge issues; write newsletters and respond to media inquiries; update the website, computer systems, databases, and QH archives; oversee building upkeep and maintenance.
Remuneration: beginning at $38,000, based on experience; plus health and dental benefits; free housing and utilities in renovated home located in Fayetteville’s historic district.
Qualifications: We seek a Director who is closely aligned with and familiar with the Society of Friends and the Quaker peace testimony; who understands the significance of upholding this light in a U. S. military setting. The position requires proven leadership, strong writing, fundraising, and management skills.
Candidates must have the stamina to live for an extended period of time in a military community. Familiarity with concepts in military counseling and recruitment is desirable. The candidate will preferably be available to attend some Quaker conferences during the summer of 2017 and begin full time in September of 2017.
Submit letters of inquiry in confidence to: Quaker House Search, 223 Hillside Ave, Fayetteville, NC, 28301, or by email to the Clerk of the Search Committee:
More information about Quaker House: www.quakerhouse.org
and at the Facebook page: Quaker House of Fayetteville.
Applications will be taken from September 1 to December 1, 2016.