The first time I attended a course/conference at teh SanAk was 1989. It was part of the planning process for Op Lindwürm and Ms Soprano was an infant. I made myself very unpopular by having both her and a sitter in town. I think thez had a better time than I, being able to truck around München while I spent hours shut in the auditorium with drapes pulled and slide after slide flashing on the screen while I valiently tried to keep my eyes at more than half mast.
Fast forward to 1999 (ignoring a few meeting in the interveening years), when I found myself uncerimoniously dumped at the SanAk for two years. Ostensibly serving as a liaison officer; it was not a good time. Looking back at my email list from those years it is pretty obvious that I was not a happy camper. Other than increasing both book and yarn stash, I didn’t see much positive about the experience.
I was working with some great individuals in Occ Med, Microbiology, Rad Health, Public Health and Toxicology. Those relationships have lasted through to the present, so it was not all bad. And no where near as bad at the time as I led myself to believe. In a pattern that was going to become very familiar in upcoming years – support and direction from the US side of the equation was essentially non-existent.
The family loved München while, as I have stated, my attitude was less than positive. Perhaps it was because I did not have the German to do the job properly. OTOH, I made no effort to increase my speaking or writing abilities which, in retrospect was extremely dumb since there were a number of courses in which I could have easily participated.
My connections to the specialty institutes have survived and strengthened over the years. I am still attending the major conferences which have provided reunions, conversations, CME, education and contacts over the years. I have stayed in communication with various of the PM and OM docs which lead to exercise participation and emergency response planning cooperation. It meant knowing people on deployments, at committee meetings and working groups. Hosting folks and dinner invitations have rounded out portions of my life.
So here I am, retired. Sitting in the same lecture hall as 22 years ago listening to opening remarks made by a colleague who retired from the Bundeswehr last year (never mind he is still surving as chair of the German equivalent of AMSUS).
We are all getting older. The former head of the Rad Institute died last month. Two of my other good colleagues from here have retired with in the last year. The presenting researchers are looking younger and younger while the problems we are discussing might have been “reformatted” but are still essentially the same.
Perhaps there is a message in that? Me? I am going to spend the evening knitting. I can see progress after playing with yarn and needles.