New Blog Shares Lessons Learned

By Lee McMahon, Defense Media Activity

For anyone who has served in the U.S. military, whether in uniform or as a family member, the concept of sharing lessons learned is a familiar one. In an effort to bring those lessons to an accessible online platform, Defense Media Activity launched a new blog today at Entitled, “In Their Own Words: Lessons Learned in Today’s Military,” the blog aims to provide a platform for servicemembers, veterans and families to share their thoughts and experiences on a variety of topics.

Each month the blog will feature a different topic ranging from lessons from multiple deployments to lessons from the military family. “In Their Own Words” aims to create a place where people can share their lessons and experiences with others.

As a first topic, “In Their Own Words” features female servicemembers engaged in work that is unique to them. With the increasing prevalence of Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan and the perspective of female servicemembers engaged in similar work in Iraq, the landscape is filled with lessons learned and experiences to share. The blogs in August will not be limited to Iraq and Afghanistan however.

Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs,  L. Tammy Duckworth, who is also a major in the Illinois Army National Guard, will share her lessons learned working to increase the resources available for female veterans, a population which continues to grow. We will also hear from a retired Navy captain who forged what was a unique path at the time in the intelligence field as a female officer.

To begin the series, “In Their Own Words” hears from U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Diana Staneszewski who serves as an AfPak Hand in Afghanistan. The AfPak Hands program works to build better, long-term relationships with the Afghan and Pakistan people. Staneszewski works at building these relationships face to face in the language of the people.

“The first question I get is where did I learn my Pashto? The second question is where am I from? I always joke and say I am Kandahari, and then say I am joking I am American. The Afghans get the joke and smile. Then I keep speaking, asking and answering questions and soon they tell me “yes” you are Kandahari you are not American. Now, I accomplish all this with my minimal Pashto familiarization, a smile, and a little personality.”

Read her entire blog now at

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