Susan Phalen

Susan Phalen is a grown-up Air Force daughter and a senior US Congressional aide. She wrote “Our Roots: Not Deep but Far and Wide” in Stories Around the Table: Laughter, Wisdom, and Strength in Military Life.

She sends this message to milkids everywhere: “All you military brats out there, I want you to know that while moving around a lot as a kid has some immediate disadvantages in your current lives, those become minor bumps compared to the long term advantages and appreciation in your future lives. Trust me.”

Susan believes life throws amazing adventures and curveballs at everyone. The trick is to know which adventures to grab on to, and how to bob and weave from the curveballs. There is no greater foundation for learning this flexibility than growing up in a military family. A few adventures not mentioned in her story: “I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, had tea with tribal elders in Afghanistan, and climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro. I have also stood in the eye of a hurricane (typhoon), experienced a massive earthquake (8.1 on the Richter scale), and lost my car in a flash flood. If you learn early how to bob and weave, it turns some of the curveballs into adventures.”

Susan has spent the last decade guiding senior US government officials through complex communications strategies for rapidly unfolding events critical to national security. She served in the Bush Administration as a senior advisor at the State Department and is currently a senior Congressional aide on Capitol Hill. No matter how grown up she is, Susan will always be a brat at heart. Oh, and she can play “Oh! Susanna” on the harmonica.

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