Viewpoints to open with retired Col. Bessler

From left are Ret. Col. John Bessler and a member of an Afghan militia at a police recruiting event in Kaki Safed, Afghanistan.

The 2017 Viewpoints Series will open March 6 at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury 132 Lancaster Drive, Irvington. The lecture will begin at 11 a.m. in the Chesapeake Center Auditorium.

The military is ramping up in strength again and all specialties are now open to both genders. These are among the sweeping changes retired U.S. Army Col. John Bessler will address.

Bessler said all branches of the military have been reducing their forces over the last few administrations. However, President Obama in December signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act into law authorizing the military to be prepared. “Congress is basically telling the military, ‘Be ready’,” said Bessler.

“Another recent change for the military hits close to home for me,” he said. “All specialties in the military are now available to both genders. So for example, my daughter, who is a lieutenant in the Army, chose field artillery, which means she jumps out of airplanes following the cannon.”

Bessler met his wife at the College of William & Mary and both of their children are also W&M alumni. After graduation in 1985, he had a series of assignments around the world in his 30-year military career including Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Afghanistan.

After deployment to the Sinai for peace-keeping operations between the Israelis and the Egyptians, he spent the last half of his career developing and studying cultural relations. He has served as a roundtable presenter for the George C. Marshall Seminar for the last several years.

The Viewpoints series features experts on a range of topics of current interest. These free presentations will include:

• April 3, Nicholas Trent, VirginiaMuseum of Fine Arts, media programs coordinator.

• May 1, Laurie McCord, Office of the First Lady, former executive assistant to the chief of staff.

• June 5, Selden Richardson, Tri-State Gang in Richmond, author.

Reservations are required. Reservations for the March 6 event will open February 20. Call 438-4000. Attendees are invited to remain after the presentations for a complimentary luncheon.

Reservations open for each speaker two weeks prior to the event. RWC maintains a waiting list and will honor reservations in the order received. Separate reservations must be made for each event.