A Conversation with a Vietnam Veteran.

Katherine Grace / Unsplash

Fifty years have passed and the trauma and memories of a 12-month hitch in Vietnam have not faded a bit.

John volunteered for the Army in 1969 when he was 19 years old. The war in Vietnam was raging and he knew it. Joining the Army was not something a kid did if he wanted to avoid combat. John knew he was signing up for trouble but did it anyway out of a sense of blind patriotism. There was no way a 19-year-old New York boy understood the politics or rationale for the war…


I am 54. He is 84.

My Dad — Circa 1943

Yesterday I learned how proud my dad was of nailing an artillery target during a demonstration for “the muckety mucks” (senior officers) while a young Second Lieutenant in the Army in the 1950s. I knew my dad had spent a couple of years in the Army after college, but never once asked him about it. His sharp memory and evident pride in this short period of his life so many decades ago shocked me.

What else didn’t I know and why had I never asked?

Like many Gen Xers, I had, to put it…


I lived with my toxic boss. He had almost total control. I had almost none.

Александр Македонский / Pexels

The Squall.

From a distance of three miles, the nighttime weather front looked like a solid obsidian wall that stretched the length of the horizon.

As our small Coast Guard ship approached the wall, I found it increasingly difficult to believe it wasn’t solid — that we weren’t going to collide with it, sending the ship and it’s 60 crew to our deaths miles beneath the lonely Pacific Ocean.

At the time I viewed that morbid fantasy as a way out.

Instead of colliding with…


Be Strong. Don’t Cry. Or Be Vulnerable? It’s Confusing. It’s Toxic.

Mubariz Mehdizadeh/Unsplash

Be a man

I don’t need to explain what this means. We all instantly know what this means in American culture.

We are taught as children what it means. Antiquated gender roles are beat (sometimes literally) into us at a young age. Yet we are no longer in a hunter gather society. We aren’t living in an agrarian world where every kid needs to assume a certain role for the sake of the family’s survival.

We don’t need to continue to teach boys to behave as if the family…


Wait and it will be too late.

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

We had gone swimming at the same beach in Guam (Gab-Gab) 50 years apart. One of several shards of fun facts I picked up while working with World War II veterans in the early 1990s. Yet I blew my opportunity to learn more.

These veterans are mostly gone now. I could have learned so much more — but I was naive, and just not interested. So, I didn’t ask. I didn’t engage.

Despite the reputation the “Greatest Generation” has for being closed lipped about their wartime experiences, if they found your experiences relatable…


You Don’t Need a Partner to Be Complete. Really. You Don’t.

Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

I used to feel differently. In fact, for the better part of my post-adolescent years, I felt compelled to be partnered up. After all, our society — from old media to social media — inundates us with the notion that being alone is somehow a mark of failure…that it’s an indication of your unlikability, your unworthiness. And if it wasn’t challenging enough pre-COVID, a year of social distancing (I mean who came up with that term?) has made it damn near impossible to start a new relationship.

Following my 2016 divorce, I didn’t wait for the ink to dry on…


Leadership Isn’t Easy. That’s Why So Many Bosses Suck.

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

The Toxic Boss.

Everyone’s Buddy.

The Screamer.

The Narcissist.

The Egoist.

The Inexperienced.

There are many reasons leaders fail.

As many readers are aware — through direct experience — ineffective (or worse — toxic) bosses have a profound impact on the well-being of everyone in the workplace.

A failing boss makes the lives of every team member miserable.

They undercut morale.

They reduce productivity.

They incur unbearable costs on organizations due to high turnover and reduced productivity.

Yet ineffective bosses are obscenely common.

In many cases this is because the wrong…


Keep Buying Your Daily Latte

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

I am not a financial expert. Not even close. If you want awesome financial advice check out this guy — his advice is spot-on: Rocco Pendola

But I can’t sit by quietly and listen to the “latte” advice anymore.

I can’t stand listening to so-called financial experts who reliably go straight for your daily $4-$5 Starbucks ritual purchase and tell you how wealthy you could be at the age of 65+ if you just sucked it up and made your coffee at home for the next 30 years.

Many things we do each day are reassuring and, yes, pleasurable rituals…


It Hasn’t Gotten Better.

Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Seriously, why is this not part of the national discussion anymore?

No, not because Trump sucked the oxygen out of every discussion that wasn’t about Trump. This issue faded into the background years ago — and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

I believe that maladaptive, morally indefensible but culturally and structurally embedded behaviors do not simply go away when new polices are implemented and leaders say to stop.

Rather they are driven further underground.

Perpetrators become more adept at disguising abusive behavior. …


The Great Gatsby Believed. So, Should You.

Shoot For The Moon /Author Photo

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald, in a posthumously published novel, The Last Tycoon, wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” It was a fragment in his notes for the book — maybe what he wanted to convey, maybe not.

Dig deeper, and you will find a different version of this often-misused quote:

“I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.”

This is from Fitzgerald’s essay My Lost City. It, I believe, reflects his concurrence…

Stephen Chamberlin

A 25 year Coast Guard officer — and currently a full-time Airstream nomad.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store