Retired four-star general is distinguished guest speaker

Every academic year, Drayton and Elizabeth McLane host an educational and inspiral speaker on UMHB’s camppus.

This year’s distinguished guest speaker was retired four-star general, Peter Chiarelli. As Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in the Bush administration, he oversaw much of the the Iraq war.

He currently serves as the CEO of the non-profit organization One Mind for Research, which dedicates its resources to studying mental illness and brain injuries.

When the war in Iraq broke out, Chiarelli was challenged in ways he had never considered. He learned that good supervisors sometimes rely on the help of others.

“I think it’s important that when you’re put in a situation as a leader that’s different than anything you’ve ever done before, you need to draw on the experience of those around you…. I believe that in order to be a good leader, you’ve gotta be a good follower.”

The general has a passion for helping victims of post-traumatic stress disorder and is raising awareness about the heightened suicide rate in the in the armed forces.

His Army background laid the foundation for his current work with One Mind for Research.

He said, “I saw a suicide rate in the Army that doubled in about eight years …. I was absolutely dumbfounded within the first eight days when somebody came into my office and showed me a chart that showed by far the most prolific wound coming out of this war was traumatic brain injury.”

Katherine Smith, a sophomore elementary education major, attended the McLane Lecture. She sees a lot of positive effects coming from the series.

Smith said, “I think it’s a good thing. I think it gives us an opportunity to hear someone come and speak who’s done some incredible things in their lifetime and can be incredibly motivational for college students.”

Smith was impressed that Chiarelli would  visit the university.

“I thought it was pretty cool because it was really nice of him to take that time out of his schedule and visit us, knowing he’s such an important person,” she said.

She also commends his efforts to improve the treatment of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I think it’s good. I think it’s important…. that even though he’s retired and everything, that he’s still trying to make a difference in the best way, he knows how. It’s inspiring.”

Freshman education major Alana Filban was also in attendance. She believes in the cause the speaker is fighting for and thinks more awareness should be raised.

She said, “I found General Chiarelli’s speech very interesting … post-traumatic  stress disorder is an issue for soldiers that needs more attention and care.”

Author: Antonio Hebert

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